Women’s History Month Interview Series: Maggie Parker, The Women Who Made History On A Bull
In a sport that is dominated by testosterone, Maggie Parker has proven you do not need a pair of balls to become a professional bull rider, instead all you need is desire and drive.
Maggie Parker has made history by becoming the first professional woman bull rider.
For something that started as a “spur of the moment” thing, Parker has rode her dream all the way to the big leagues. She has now joined the likes of Danica Patrick, who broke into a “man’s sport”, but for Parker it was on a bull, rather than a car. The 21-year old is proud that she can inspire other people do what they love, even if some believe they cannot achieve their goals.
“I love being able to inspire so many people, men, women, young and old. Helping others train their minds to be more positive, and go after their dreams is the best feeling in the world. I am no where near finished in rodeo though, I still have a lot more goals I would like to accomplish,” Parker said.
Bull riding is no easy task, man or women, and is not the average dream for your typical girl growing up, but than again Parker has proven she is not typical. Parker started her journey at the age of 16, and over the past five years she has traveled all over the country until now, where she resides in Oklahoma. In-between Parker lived in California with her trainer and mentor, Gary Leffew, who was a PRCA bull riding champion in 1970.
“Not only did he help with my riding skills but also made me a better and more positive person all around,” Park said about Leffew.
Leffew helped show Parker her flaws and with dedication she managed to correct those mistakes. She overcame what she was doing wrong and after that, he taught her the right riding techniques.
Parker explained how it takes a lot of commitment and training, but as she said “you never stop learning and getting better. You have to be fully committed to being the best you can be. As far as your mind, you clear it of all thoughts and let your heart and muscle memory take over. That is why it’s so important to train.”
Bull riding is one of the most dangerous sports in the world, but that does not stop Parker. Though there is a deal of fear involved with the sport, she has found a way to block it out and only focus on her goal.
“I’ve never been scared, nervous at times but never scared. I’ve always known that injuries are part of the sport, but I don’t think about them. Even when I do get hurt its all worth it to be living my dreams and doing what I love, not many people can say they live the life of their dreams,” Parker said.
Though she is living her dreams, they do not come without a price. Parker recently received a devastating injury in Wyoming, where she crushed a vertebrae. She now has two rods and eight long screws in her spine. The injury has not discourage her, or derailed her from her career path.
“The adrenaline is so high you barely even feel it when you break a bone,” Parker said. “It is hard to be out for a while and come back but I always try to stay positive and think of it as a way for me to have more time to train, get in better shape, and just come back stronger than I was before.”
For Parker all the benefits she gets from bull riding far outweigh the negatives.
“The atmosphere, Parker said on her favorite aspect of the sport. “Everyone in rodeo is like family and the best, most caring people around. The life is fast pace and almost like living in a dream traveling the country and being singled out in those bright arena lights with music blaring and the roar of the crowd.”
Parker who plans on becoming a registered nurse after her riding days are over, said she would like to ride as long as her body will allow her to. She is doing something she loves, and getting the opportunity to travel the country, something else she truly enjoys. No matter what Parker does with the rest of her career, no one can ever take away the fact that she is a part of history. Whether the other riders like her or not, Parker will do what she loves and continue to be an inspiration to others.
“I get good and bad reactions,” Parker said about her competitors reaction to her.” I really don’t pay it any mind anymore, because I found myself and know that I’m living the life God intended for me and loving every bit of it.”
If you were to host a dinner with three women in sports (past or present), who would they be and why?
Danika Patrick.. I get compared to her a lot and would just love to talk to her
Ruth Salmon.. She rode buckin horses in the early 1900’s and was very skilled and tough and a pioneer in rodeo
The Williams sisters Venus and Serena.. because I would try to convince them to be my personal trainers and make me as buff as them.
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