The National Junior High Finals Rodeo will be June 18-24 in Wilson County, the second time ever for the National High School Rodeo Association to bring its annual event east of the Mississippi River. It is also the second time the event will be held at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon.
Current grandparents Jeff and Debbie Joines began allowing their children to compete in National High School Rodeo Association events in 2003. Their children, Audrey and Cole Joines, continued competing until they both graduated high school in 2011.
“We told our kids, ‘this stuff is really expensive, so if we’re going to do this as a family, you’re going to practice hard, you’re going to try hard and you’re going to give 110 percent when you go out there,’” said Debbie Joines.
Audrey Joines, now mother of her own rodeo protégé, competed in all the girl’s events as a junior high and high school competitor. In 2007, she finished in the top 8 in Tennessee in four different events, qualifying her for the National High School Rodeo finals in each.
Cole Joines competed in barrel racing and team roping. In 2009, he qualified for the National High School Rodeo finals in team roping.
Audrey and Cole Joines both continued competing in local professional events after graduating from high school.
Audrey now has a 2-year-old son, Jackson Joines, who works leadline shows with his pony.
Leadline is a youth rodeo event where young children sit on their horses with the reins in hand while an adult or older child leads the horse with a rope.
“His mother is teaching him how to rope, too,” said Debbie Joines. “They were working on it the other day in the backyard. So we have a lot of plans for him if that’s what he wants to do.”
Jeff Joines was instrumental in bringing the National Junior High Rodeo Finals to Wilson County. He used his experience working in past rodeos as a selling point to get the event to come to Wilson County.
In 2015, he presented his idea to bring the rodeo to the James E. Ward Agricultural Center to the National High School Rodeo Association.
“He knew a lot of people in the association just from our previous years being there,” said Debbie Joines. “Jeff knew the capacity of the Ward center, so basically he went to the association in Dallas and gave them a presentation detailing what we had available here.”
Debbie Joines encourages anyone interested to come out to the event and check it out.
“People are going to be blown away by the talent of these young people. Many of them have been throwing a rope on a horse since they were little-bitty guys, and I think that’s the most amazing thing,” said Debbie Joines.
The opening ceremony for the National Junior High Rodeo Finals will be Sunday at 7 p.m. For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, visit nhsra.com/junior-high-division.