SUU Cowgirl Rides Past Adversity at CNFR

Southern Utah University cowgirl, Valarie Burke is soaking it all in at the College National Finals Rodeo.

"Today just sitting in that alley, I just realized I made it this far. I belong here just as much as anyone else," Burke said.

As you look at Burke riding her horse Boo in the goat tying event, she looks normal, but when she was younger her back did not.

"Just one day I was looking in the mirror and one side of my back, the muscle was super huge and I asked my mom what the heck was going on," Burke said.

After some x-rays, the doctors could see the problem, scoliosis.

"I hate to talk about surgery on a first consultation, but that's where we are going with this," Burke said. "I was in 8th grade when I got my back surgery."

Two metal rods were placed on each side of Burke's back.

"It didn't really hit me I would be out for six months and not able to ride. I was on bed rest for a month," Burke said. "I almost didn't rodeo in college because I didn't want to hurt my back because there's always that kind of risk that it'll hurt."

"I didn't want that to hold me back. I didn't want something as silly as back surgery to keep me from going and being my best and I wanted to be the best," Burke said.

Boo was by her side, helping Burke in a fast recovery.

"I got my horse that I'm riding right now my senior year of high school...At one rodeo I was like okay let's go and she was stinking fast," Burke said. "My horse has just blown me away. she's just help me through it all."

"You can do anything you want like if you want it bad enough and you practice hard enough. Even though sometimes I felt it was weird and it was holding me back. I'm  just like get this out of your mind and just go do it," Burke said.

After go two, Burke has a combined time of 7 and 1 with her 3rd go remaining, but either way what a journey into CNFR. Reporting in Casper, Megan Salle, K2 Sports