Lots of kids spend summer break indoors on video games, outside in the water, or earning a little extra cash via a part-time job. But Levi DeHart isn’t like most other kids, and while they are whiling away the hours, he is actively competing against other competitors from across the nation in rodeo events.
Levi, who is 12 and entering seventh grade at North Webster Junior High, is in Oklahoma this week competing in the National Little Britches Rodeo Association (NLBRA) Finals.
“As a mom the best part is the character rodeo creates in kids,” said Brandi DeHart, Levi’s mom. She spoke to The Journal via Facebook Live from Oklahoma. “The drive that Levi has for rodeo amazes me. I never have to tell him to practice; I never have to make sure his gear is together. He’s early and knows when and where to be and at what time. When we head out to a rodeo Levi says,’let’s go, everything is loaded’.”
Everything includes horses, saddles, gear, hats, boots and “whatever is coming to that particular rodeo. Levi has it loaded.”
Brandi describes her child as humble and dedicated. “He never complains. We just came in from a 12-hour-drive, and the first thing Levi did when we got home was practice.” He then went on to clean stalls, ride his horse and take care of his 4-H pigs. “Rodeo keeps Levi humble. He’s learned how to deal with wins and loses all while keeping the right attitude. He knows there’s another rodeo and another chance to do his best.”
Levi began his rodeo career at only nine years of age. He cut his teeth in the Southwest Arkansas High School Rodeo Association. In addition to qualifying in the NLBRA event, Levi also qualified for the 2021 National Junior High Rodeo finals in bareback steer riding.
For the 2020-2021 year, Levi placed in the state Top 5 in that same event. From the state finals, Levi qualified for the national finals in Iowa. That competition is considered by industry insiders and enthusiasts of the sport as being the best of the best.
“It is one of the largest rodeos with 46 states,Canada and Mexico competing for money, buckles, saddles and scholarships,” Brandi DeHart said. “Levi Made a qualifying ride in the first go. In the second go, Levi needed four tenths of a second to make a second qualifying ride.”
He came up just short of the championship round, but let’s not forget the young man was a sixth grader in his first competition at such a high level.
Check back with the Journal next week. We will have an update on how Levi fared in the NLBRA Finals. The event ends Sunday.