by Zachary Harmuth
Thanks to the Franklin Rodeo, Natalie Fletcher gets to pursue her rodeo dreams.
The 19-year-old cowgirl is a sophomore on academic scholarship at the University of Tennessee- Martin, and also a promising, rising star in UTM’s Rodeo Booster Club.
The Franklin Rodeo gives a $1,000 scholarship to the club each year, which gives it to a talented person like Fletcher.
Without the generous gift, aspiring riders would not have the time or money to ride.
“It gives me enough to pay for academics, books, and feed” for her horses, she said, “which is awesome.”
The rodeo scholarship has made it possible for her to devote her time exclusively to school and rodeo and not have to get a job, and thus split her time in thirds. (When would she sleep?)
“I go to class from eight to four, then have thirty minutes to change clothes, and head to the arena,” where rodeo practice is held till 9:30 pm each night.
Fletcher, studying to become a vet specializing in horses and cattle, competes in breakaway roping, goat tying and team roping.
She finished third place in breakaway roping in the 2012-2013 season for the Ozark Region and qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo.
This year’s rodeo comes to Franklin on May 15-17 at the Williamson Co. Ag Expo Center. Tickets go on sale in April. For more information, visit the rodeo’s website at FranklinRodeo.com or call 615-RODEO11.
Photo: Natalie Fletcher competes in the breakaway roping at a college rodeo last year. The Knoxville, Tenn. cowgirl is the recipient of scholarship money donated to the University of Tennessee-Martin Booster Club by the Franklin Rodeo. By Randy Fletcher.