School’s out, time to rodeo

When the 3 p.m. bell rings at Oak Mountain Elementary School on Fridays, speech pathologist Mary English is out the door and ready to rodeo.

She walks away from her interest of helping speech impediments and working with children that have autism, to groom her horse Filly, grab her saddle and hit the road to the next go-round on the schedule.

“It’s the great thing about being in the school. You kind of know when you’re going to be off work and kind of plan accordingly,” said English, who plans to compete in at least 30-40 rodeos this season.

The Montevallo native most recently competed in her hometown go-round at the Shelby County Cattlemen’s Association Rodeo in Columbiana Saturday, roping her calf in 2.6 seconds. The time was good enough for second place and almost $500, but an early break through the barrier cost her a 10-second penalty.

“I’d rather be a 12.6 with a barrier than a 4 without a barrier and not place,” English said. “I’m kind of jinxed. I’m either breaking out or I’m winning first-place checks. This year my goal is to find a happy medium.”

Last year, English advanced to the Professional Cowboys Rodeo Finals and earned $3,436 through the season.

But roping well isn’t anything new to this cowgirl, who has a bag full of prize buckles in her closet.

Rodeo is her life. Something her students and co-workers are beginning to learn.

“I have a couple of pictures on my bulletin board and they (students) always want to know where the parade was,” English said. “They like hearing stories and they want to know if (the horses) bite.”

English, who also works at Helena Intermediate, said the schools’ administrations and teachers want to know how she did.

“It kind of surprises me that so many people are interested in it, because I wouldn’t have expected it,” said English, who will turn 25 next month.

While English begins her speech path career, she hopes to broaden her other career this year with a return to barrel racing.