Kind-hearted, honest, passionate and driven. Those words have been used to describe many successful people throughout the years. To the friends of Kelsey Stokes, junior agricultural economics major, those words are how they describe their friend and teammate.
A two-time national ranch horse champion, Stokes displays passion and drive in her everyday life.
"(Stokes) is extremely talented, driven and doesn"t know how to fail," said Levi Williamson, previous Texas Tech Ranch Horse coach. "The will is always there, and as long as she is competing, you can"t beat her!"
Stokes grew up on a ranch in Afton, Texas, where she was active in many different activities. Stokes began riding when she was young. Long time friend, Kaitlyn Cash, said Stokes was always a determined little kid. She participated in play days and rodeos where she competed in the barrel racing, pole bending and goat tying events.
In high school, Stokes continued to rodeo. Some of her greatest high school rodeo success came in the poles competition. When she was a junior, she advanced to the state finals for the Texas High School Rodeo Association, where she represented Region III. Growing up, Stokes was also a member of her county"s 4-H club and showed in various livestock shows.
When asked why Stokes chose to come to Texas Tech, she said she had never seen herself going anywhere else. From the time her older sister, Shelby, became a student at Texas Tech, she wanted to be a Red Raider.
"I liked Texas Tech, because it was where my sister was, and it was close to home," Stokes said. "I had also wanted to join the Ranch Horse Team, so it just made sense."
Stokes transitioned well into her new life at Texas Tech in the fall of 2009. To many students at Texas Tech she is more than a teammate; she is a friend and a mentor. Jordan Williams, a junior agricultural business major and a teammate of Stokes, said she has always been a good study buddy.
"Over the years of getting to know her, I found her to be a very nice and helpful person to others," said Williams. "She is always willing to help others the best that she can."
The classroom wasn"t the only place Stokes was finding success. The Texas Tech Ranch Horse team has had great success in the past years. Stokes joined the team when she was a freshman.
"I didn"t have much experience in this type of competition," Stokes said. "It looked really interesting, so when I was in high school I began to learn the basics."
Her hard work and dedication to learning the new event paid off. In the fall 2009 tryouts, Stokes was selected to be a member of the novice division of the Ranch Horse Team.
Texas Tech offers three different divisions on the team. Each year, they attend four to five competitions as a team within the Stock Horse of Texas (S.H.O.T.) Shows. Throughout the year, the members of the team can also attend events with the Ranch Horse Association of America. Stokes said she was looking into showing in this circuit.
In her first year on the team, Stokes experienced great success at show held at Texas Tech.
"We were hosting while trying to show," Stokes said. "I was freaking out because I was nervous, it was a national show and I was a freshman."
Not only did the Texas Tech Ranch Horse Team win the national championship for another year, Stokes was named the collegiate novice all-around champion. All around champion meant Stokes was the highest scorer out of all of the four different events.
In her sophomore year, she saw the same success. Having moved up to the limited division in the S.H.O.T., Stokes continued to shine. She finished the year once again with the Texas Tech Ranch Horse Team winning another championship and Stokes winning the collegiate limited all around champion.
"Last year was just exciting," Stokes said. "We had the show in Abilene and we just went out there and showed like it was no big deal."
This spring, Stokes is now in the non-pro division. The Texas Tech Ranch Horse Team"s current coach, Cooper Cogdell, said he has high hopes for his team this year, as well as for Stokes.
"I don"t expect anything less from her this year," Cogdell said. "She is going to keep rising to the level that she has put up."
Cogdell said he feels like she will do what it takes to keep improving herself, as well as her horse for competition.
The 2012 Stock Horse of Texas Show will be held in Amarillo, Texas. Stokes said that she is excited for this year"s competition. As for advice for people who may be interested in competing on the Texas Tech Ranch Horse Team, Stokes suggests they should just go out there and try it.
"I was so scared my freshman year, but I just had to try it and get my feet wet," Stokes said. "From there, I just rolled with it."