Joey Williams is on the road again. The world’s 14th-ranked breakaway roper has just finished an event and is driving back home. She says she hopes she makes it - her truck has not been running great - but she’s going to drive all night if she can. Three little ones are waiting at home for their mom to return.
For Williams, being a mother comes first.
“Your family becomes your priority,” she says. “Breakaway is obviously serious for me, but if it goes well, that’s fantastic. But if not, you’ve got plenty of things to do at home.”
Williams and her husband, Taylor, work on the family cattle ranch in Volborg. Their young family includes 5-year-old Landon, 3-year-old Carson, and a 9-month-old, Shay. Motherhood is Williams’ first job, but there are others that fill her day. She works the ranch and helps manage the family’s hunting business. Then, this summer, she seriously took on another occupation: breakaway.
“These people who do this for a living - I don’t even know if I would put myself in that category - are just taking it to a whole new level,” Williams says. “My cousin is married to Jessica Routier. She’s a barrel racer who qualified for her fourth NFR. They have five kids, and I know what she sacrifices and the work she puts in to get where she is.
For mothers who rodeo, finding time for work and family isn’t easy.
“Just knowing what these women sacrifice, especially the people with kids, is inspiring,” she says. “Before kids, you can rope as much as you want to. But after kids, it’s a whole different thing.”
Finding balance is key, she says.
“I try to practice when I can but practice isn’t a guaranteed thing for me on a daily basis like it is for some professional athletes,” she says of being a mother. “It all depends on what is going on on the ranch and my kids' schedules. Like, this past week we’ve been battling sickness. We also got over a foot of snow this week. You just roll with it.”
Williams says that being a mother has helped her mental game.
“I think that being a mother is helpful as far as the mental aspect of it because you do realize there’s more to life than breakaway roping,” she says. “I feel like that helps me brush off the small stuff, when life doesn’t go your way.”
And when the rope doesn’t fall the right way, she doesn’t stay down long.
“It’s really hard to come back to the trailer and be mad at yourself when you’ve got toddlers standing there excited to see you,” she says. “You learn to deal with what’s thrown at you so much better than before you had kids.”