Courtesy of Weatherford College
For years, the Weatherford College basketball program has had players from overseas dotting its roster. Now, it appears that rodeo coach Johnny Emmons is taking a cue from hoops.
Emmons’ newest roster addition is from Italy - the one overseas, not the one in Texas. However, Francesca Riccardi is certainly familiar with a couple of things popular in Texas.
She loves to rodeo and she loves horses.
“I was looking for a college that offered a program of equine science and that had the possibility for me to become part of a rodeo team as a barrel racer,” said Riccardi.
“I’ve been here in Texas before. I looked on the Internet and asked some friends in the U.S., and everybody said that the equine program here is really good.
“I was accepted at other colleges, but all things kept sending me to Weatherford College.”
Emmons said he’d heard about Riccardi from some mutual friends.
“I would say that’s the most far away anyone has come,” he said. “We had two Hawaiians come a couple years ago, and we’ve had a few Canadians as well.”
Riccardi’s resume includes being the National Barrel Horse Association Italy Junior Champion, Italian and European Youth Reserve Champion, and finishing fourth at the European Championship.
“Barrel racing is tough in Texas, but she has a great reputation and I feel she will be competitive,” said Emmons.
Riccardi is no stranger to American rodeos. In fact, she and her family have lived in America previously.
“My parents followed the American dream,” she said. “My dad was a football player in Italy and my mother loved horses, so my sister and I inherited this dream and that’s the reason I’m here.
“We’ve been in different places, from New York City, Las Vegas, San Francisco to Wyoming, Oklahoma City and Colorado Springs.”