In junior high school in Montana, Joey Williams wrote an essay arguing why breakaway roping should be added as an event at the National Finals Rodeo. In 2020, the NFR added breakaway roping to its event lists. Now, a year later, Williams, who is ranked 14th in the world, has earned a trip to the NFR next month in Las Vegas.
Dreams do come true, especially when those dreams are accompanied by hard work. Williams, who is the mother of three young children, is busy not only getting ready for the NFR in a couple of weeks but also with family, ranch work, and running a hunting business. Through it all, she remains balanced.
If Williams could give advice to her younger self, she would have told her to have the utmost confidence in herself no matter what she's doing.
“Believe in yourself and don’t sweat the small things,” Williams says. “A lot of hard work goes into success. And you always have to remember: There’s always another calf to rope.”
In college, Williams, who was then Joey Painter finished her junior season winning the breakaway national title at the 2012 College National Finals Rodeo. Jessica, Joey’s older sister, had won the same title six years earlier - on the same horse, Louie.
“Jessica has basically been my mentor over the years,” Williams says. “You definitely have to have people who are in your corner.”
Also in Williams’ corner is husband, Taylor, who she met at BHSU. Her sister and his older sister were best friends, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“He’s very helpful,” she says of Taylor, who is also a professional roper. “He’s kind of my coach. He’s just really mellow and chill. It’s easy to take advice from him.”
This summer - with her family’s support - Williams hit the road to compete in as many events as she could. Sometimes she took her mother and children. Sometimes she traveled alone. It was a dream years in the waiting, but when it finally came true and the final rankings came in, she was sitting in the top-15.
When she thinks back to that essay she wrote in junior high, she still can’t believe what lies before her in only a couple of weeks.
“It still doesn’t even seem like a real thing what happened this year,” says Williams. “If I can inspire anyone to crack their rope back out and give it a try, that is so cool to me.”