When Joey Williams answers the phone, she quickly informs the caller that she’s just put her 9-month- old daughter down for a nap.
“I’m hoping she stays asleep while we talk,” she says with a laugh. “We’ll see.”
This busy, energetic mother of three children under 5, wife, and business owner manages to find time in the day for many things, including breakaway roping, a sport she's been getting into professionally the last couple years. The Montana cowgirl is now ranked 14th in the WPRA/PRCA World Standings to qualify for the 2021 Pro Rodeo National Finals of Breakaway Roping in Las Vegas this December.
Competing professionally in breakaway is a dream come true, Williams says. Up until a few years ago, the event had been only for women in high school, college, and amateur rodeos. Women in professional rodeo only competed in barrel racing at PRCA rodeos. But then, at the 2020 National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Arlington, Texas, women ropers competed for the first-ever world championship.
Breakaway has become one of the hottest events sanctioned by the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA), and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), with the two working together to grow the sport.
In college, Williams was named All Around Cowgirl in the Great Plains Region Inter-Collegiate Rodeo and took the title in breakaway at the College National Finals Rodeo in 2012.
“When I was able to enter a couple of rodeos two years ago, it was so exciting because I didn’t think it was something we’d ever get to do,” Williams says. “I just think for people like me that have stayed in the industry - but never at this high of a level - it’s just been a great opportunity.”
Volborg, Montana is listed by WPRA as Williams’s hometown, but it’s not really a town at all. Williams actually lives close to Broadus, with an official population of 456. It’s where her son goes to school and she buys groceries. In the sparsely populated region, opportunities to compete in big rodeos in the area aren’t plentiful, Williams says. Unless, of course, you want to be on the road all the time.
“That didn’t seem like a wise decision when we were starting our family,” she says. “What I accomplished this summer is not something that will happen every year. When I started off this year, I was going to circuit rodeos to make the circuit finals.”
Now ranked in the top-15 with a shot at winning it all in Las Vegas, leaving her family the end of this summer to give a pro career everything she had ended up being worth it.
“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.”