COLUMBIA — Some people might not understand why Madeline Cuppy loves rodeo. But for her, it's "addicting."
“Once you do it once, you just want to keep doing it everyday,” she said.
Cuppy is the president of the Missouri High School Rodeo, and she competes in barrel racing and pole bending.
For the Cuppys, rodeo is a family tradition. Doug Cuppy, Madeline’s father, competed in rodeo when he was in high school. He and his brother went to the national competition in 1989 for team roping.
“My kids were on horses by the time they were 2 and had ropes in their hands by the time they were 3. It’s just in their blood,” said Melissa Cuppy, Madeline’s mother. “It’s been a natural thing, for all of us.”
Madeline Cuppy’s two younger brothers, Hunter and Chandler Cuppy, also compete in the rodeo.
Melissa Cuppy recalled when her daughter cheered on Hunter on Thursday night. He competed in team roping with his cousin, and when he caught the bull, his sister stood up and whistled for him.
“Hey, Madeline, it’s not a Mizzou touchdown,” the announcer said, making fun of her over the arena's loudspeaker. Everyone knows what Madeline is like, her mother said.
“She cheers for everybody. She probably cheers harder on all the other pole benders than herself,” Melissa Cuppy said.
Madeline Cuppy has two horses: Hank, whom she rides in competitions, and Ashes, whom she got from her aunt in 2011 as a birthday present.
“The relationship between you and your horse is like no other. You have to have a good relationship with them or else you won’t do good,” she said.
To develop a sound relationship with her horse, Cuppy said she spends time with him, rides him and gets to know him.
“I know exactly what he is going to do right when he is going to do it,” she said.
For the past year, Cuppy has also had to juggle being a president and being a student.
She just graduated from her high school, Atlanta C-3, and is taking three online college classes at Moberly Area Community College. She plans to go to MU for occupational therapy after she finishes her associate degree next year.
Cuppy was elected president of the Missouri High School Rodeo last June.
“I did the most I could to make Missouri High School Rodeo the best this year and having everything run smooth, and I hope that next year's president goes on with it,” she said.
One thing Cuppy started during her presidency was doing tributes during the grand entries. The rodeo group picked a color for all of the competitors to wear for the night, and that color represented a cause, such as breast cancer, cystic fibrosis awareness or military veterans.
For Saturday’s grand entry, all the competitors planned to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness. This tribute is especially important to Cuppy because her grandmother recovered from breast cancer six years ago.
Being able to balance school, being president and practicing for competitions has been a challenge for Cuppy, but she gives credit to her family.
“Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this,” she said.