She’s the mane event

Three-time state champion barrel racer balances school and competition

Since she was 7 years old, Liberty University student Josie McCormick’s passion for barrel racing was a large part of her life.

Eventually, her passion for riding horses would take her to the championship level.

“I have been the Virginia state youth champion three years in a row now, and as of 2015, ranked 8th in the world at the National Barrel Horse Association World championships,” McCormick said.

“I have made these accomplishments possible through the grace of God, and I give him all the glory.”

Balancing her time as a nursing student at Liberty and a three-time state champion can be difficult, but even through her hectic life, McCormick always points back to God as her strength and barrel racing as her passion.

A native of Appomattox, Virginia, McCormick began practicing barrel racing as a family pastime.

The sport requires the rider and horse to work together in order to perfect a specific pattern.

HORSING AROUND — Josie McCormick poses with her horse. McCormick has been ranked No. 8 in the world at the National Barrel Horse Association World Championships. Photo Provided

HORSING AROUND — Josie McCormick poses with her horse. McCormick has been ranked No. 8 in the world at the National Barrel Horse Association World Championships.Photo Provided

“It is a sport where a horse and its rider run through a set of three barrels as fast as they can in a clover leaf shaped pattern,” McCormick said. “Whoever keeps all three barrels up and is the fastest, wins.

However, if a barrel is knocked over, five seconds get added to your time.

In the tightest situations the win can be determined down to a
thousandth of a second.”

When she’s not competing, McCormick, a freshman at Liberty, spends her time in the nursing program in hopes of one day becoming a pediatric nurse.

Despite the difficulty of competing and being a full time student, McCormick manages to make the best of it.

“Due to the fact that nursing school is extremely difficult and takes up a lot of time studying and getting assignments done, it does not give me much time to ride and practice as much as I would like,” McCormick said.

“Although I manage to make it work … my professors are very generous and help me out a lot when it comes to me having to miss school for barrel races.”

As a Christian and an athlete, McCormick believes that prayer and God both play a large part in her life, both on a competitive and an academic level.

“I use prayer right before my runs,” McCormick said.

“I pray with whoever is around me, whether it is my family or close friends.”

McCormick recalled a time during the 2015 championship when she felt that prayer not only helped her win, but also helped her friend and fellow barrel racer to give credit to God as well.

“I prayed with a close friend of mine, and right after that prayer I ran the fastest time and earned that title,” McCormick said.

“The next week I started seeing on Facebook how (my friend) had begun to post statuses about God and how he works and giving him the glory for all the things he blessed her with in her accomplishments in barrel racing.”

McCormick plans to continue balancing her nursing and competitive life past graduation into her professional career, hoping to one day compete in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Until then, whether she finds herself in the classroom or at the reins of a horse, McCormick continues to draw her strength
from God.

“I hope to finish my next four years of schooling and hopefully earn a bachelor of science in nursing and work as a pediatric nurse, all while still competing and winning more titles,” McCormick said.

“None of this would be possible without God. … He is the one that gives me the strength to manage to succeed in both my nursing career and barrel racing.”

Fraticelli is a feature reporter.

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