Round Up Club

Mutton Bustin'

In the world of youth sports, rodeo
is perhaps the most time intensive for youngsters, but it’s a sport and a
lifestyle that is enjoying growth and popularity in places like Edmond.

The Edmond Round Up Club, a
non-profit organization, promotes family involvement through junior rodeos in
an effort to involve children in the activity while preserving Western
heritage. A bucking success, rodeo families are extended families and the
Edmond Round Up Club plays a big role in that. “We hold junior rodeos starting in
March through August every year, and this club is for children 18 years and
younger,” said Round Up Club member Kimberly Benne-Gray.

Bull FightThe youth rodeo club has a long
history in the red dirt of Oklahoma. In 1966, when the club needed a new site
to hold rodeos, Carl Benne stepped up and worked with another member to design
the current Round Up Club arena while club members put their blood, sweat and
tears into building it. In January 2003, the Edmond City Council recognized the
hard work and voted to name the arena for the club’s long-term member and
former president, Carl Benne.

Since its conception, the rodeo
club does more than teach children to ride horses and put on events. It helps
form youngsters into strong adults through a unique experience unlike any
other. “The values kids learn in youth rodeo are so important. They learn
sportsmanship, compassion and responsibility,” said Krissy Bamberg, president
of Edmond Round Up Club. “It’s really cool when you sit outside the arena and
listen to the kids all cheer for each other. They aren’t rival competitors—they
are each other’s biggest fans!”

Little Girl with GoatRodeo is unlike any other sport,
according to Bamberg. Unlike baseball or basketball, rodeo becomes a daily
commitment to not only learning the skills, but to the other living creatures
that make up rodeo.

“Sure they all practice often,
but in rodeo you have the horse. It’s nothing like a ball-glove you toss in the
truck,” she said. “My kids wake up at 7am, seven days a week to feed horses and
clean stalls. Then they take care of them again at night before dinner. Their
horses are their best friends and they know all their secrets. Winning with
your best friend? Well, there is nothing better!” Laughing, crying and working
together, the members of the Edmond Round Up Club become family.

Riding HorseEvents play a big part in the
interest of the club. Each member has stories to tell about the rodeos and the
moments that changed their lives. “My favorite times were team roping with my
son when he was growing up,” said Carl Benne.

Kimberly Benne-Gray said her
favorite memories are of the kids themselves. “I have to say my favorite thing
of all is being able to watch all the kids grow up over the years and have them
as a part of my life,” she said. “When the rodeo season ends each year, I
always miss them until the next season rolls around.”

Team Round Up

The Edmond Round Up Club has
meetings every second Thursday of the month at the Edmond Community
Center.  The club welcomes new members
and since it is a non-profit organization, it relies heavily on donations and
sponsorship involvement. “Hopefully the future of the club will continue to be
as great as it is today,” said Bamberg. “We would love to have more families
join us and we want everyone to experience the fun. The arena has been renovated;
we have a very fun and hard working group of families. The kids who have been
rodeoing for a long time will help the kids who are just beginning. It’s really
a neat thing. We want every kid to finish the year feeling like a champion.”

To obtain a sponsorship form to help support The
Edmond Round Up Club or to become a member, contact Kimberly Benne-Gray at
(405) 264-3685.

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