— By GREG WEBB
Four Weatherford seniors recently solidified their respective futures toward the same goal of continuing their education, but with decidedly different paths.
A pair of student-athletes will continue rodeo careers, and will be based very close to home to do so.
Calf-roper and steer wrestler Seth Cooke got interested in rodeo while still in middle school.
“I really got started on a whim, really,” Cooke said. “My dad and I began working together, and [my interest] just grew from there.”
With his mind’s eye looking at several vocations that may interest him for his future, Seth plans to get his basic studies taken care of at WC, while improving his skills and helping the WC team to continue to be successful.
Just in the sport for a relatively short period of time, Anne Todd’s interest in rodeo began as a sophomore. A common theme with many rodeo athletes, as well as these two, her dad was her biggest influence in getting started.
Apparently dad was a pretty good coach in his own right, as Todd has improved her breakaway roping skills to heights worthy of competing at the next level. She is excited to be able to stay close to home while joining a program like WC’s.
“Weatherford College has a very good program that competes in a national setting,” she said. “It was an easy decision when it came to joining WC rodeo.”
Like Cooke, Todd is exploring her options, and the classes, before committing to degree plan that is right for her. But both want to make WC their starting point for competing at the collegiate level, with Tarleton State as a worthy goal after (WC head rodeo coach) Johnny Emmons has imparted his knowledge for the next couple of years.
It is a rarity for athletes who have shared the same sport, at the same venues — from youth leagues through high school — to continue doing so at the next level, but those are precisely the plans for Robert Brennand and Will Graham, who finished prep soccer careers this year with the Roos, as defender and midfielder, respectively.
The two will be setting up residence to extend their careers as student-athletes this fall, while reporting for classes at Ranger College.
The recruiting process for the seniors was a relatively painless one, as Ranger head coach Jaime Beltran was already familiar with the boys’ respective careers at Weatherford. The decision to pursue the next step at Ranger College was initialized with a text from Brennand to Graham, followed by a visit to the college.
“We both visited with [Coach Beltran] for a few hours while we were there, talking about the soccer program at Ranger,” Graham said. “It was basically a done deal at that point.”
Understandably, the friends are looking forward to being teammates, as well as classmates, and the continuance of student-athlete life the past few years. They have grown up in the soccer environment for the past six years.
Brennand is resolute about playing soccer as long as he can, developing a love for the sport the first time on the pitch..
“I started playing when I was five years old, and I had the idea I wanted to do this forever,” he said.
Graham has had his eyes on playing at the next level since his freshman year at WHS. Both of the guys are happy about continuing their education and respective athletic endeavors so close to home, as well.
Ranger is one of the teams on the ground floor of the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference which is a member of the NJCAA’s Region V.
In the classroom, Graham intends to steer his attention in the direction of a degree in education, with current plans to teach and perhaps throw coaching into the mix.
Brennand’s interests are in the area of law enforcement, perhaps pursuing a criminal justice discipline.
Despite their varying directions in education, for the next couple of years, the pair will be attacking the same goal while wearing the same colors.