Butler County cowboy seeing success

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Jonathan Varner has already had a full rodeo career.

That’s a pretty bold statement since he is only 15. But it’s true.

In his short career Varner has already collected 15 saddles and 42 buckles.

He has traveled far and wide to compete against the best and beat the best.

Recently, Varner and roping partner Austin McDougald competed in the Alabama High School Athletic Association rodeo in Andalusia where once again, Varner did quite well.

&uot;I took fifth in the steer wrestling and we got 11th in the calf roping,&uot; said Varner. &uot;We did pretty well.&uot;

The winning finishes qualified Varner for the national rodeo to be held in Gillette, and Shawnee, Wyo. This July.

&uot;We will be going to Gillette and Shawnee for nationals the first couple of weeks in July,&uot; said Varner. &uot;We’ll be doing team roping in Gillette and steer wrestling in Shawnee.&uot;

The Varners will travel over 1,000 miles for the nationals. But travel is nothing new to them.

&uot;We’ve got a long trip ahead of us, but we’ve put in a lot of miles before,&uot; said Varner’s mother Billie. &uot;This year alone we have been to Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and a lot of other places. It feels like we have been around the world.&uot;

The road to Varner’s success hasn’t just been on the highway. Varner has been a dedicated cowboy putting in many hard hours to be the best. Varner said he started at an early age.

&uot;I’ve been doing this ever since I was old enough to pick up a rope,&uot; said Varner. &uot;It takes a lot of work.&uot;

Varner said practicing every day was very important to stay sharp.

&uot;I practice every night,&uot; said Varner. &uot;I mostly practice team roping and steer wrestling. Those are my main events.&uot;

Aside from practice, those who participate in the rodeo also have toe sell ads to be eligible.

&uot;They have to sell $350 worth of ads or they can’ participate,&uot; said Varner’s father Johnnie. &uot;Luckily, we have had sponsors.&uot;

Pioneer Electric, State Farm, and Maxx Oil are just three of the many sponsors that have helped the Varner’s along the way.

Without all of the sponsors it would be difficult to make the cut.

&uot;I just want to thank all of the people that have sponsored us along the way,&uot; said Varner. &uot;They have all been great and really helped us out.&uot;

Varner’s rodeo career almost ended early. Two years ago doctors told him he would have to give up the rough sport he loves so much.

&uot;Two years ago they said he wouldn’t be able to rodeo any more,&uot; said Johnnie Varner. &uot;They wanted to do surgery on both knees. He has overcome it and done very well.&uot;

Just how deep is Varner’s love for the rodeo? Deep enough to give up another sport.

Varner was a promising baseball player, another sport he loved. But his true calling took center stage and this year Varner shed his glove to stick with the rodeo full time.&uot;

Despite his success Varner has remained humble.

He was more than willing to pass the credit to others.

&uot;I just want to thank my parents for being there for me,&uot; said Varner. &uot;I also want to thank my roping partner and his parents. It has been a real team effort.&uot;

With all the accolades he has earned in his short career things look very promising for this Butler County cowboy.