Killeen barrel racer Shelbie Parrish competes at Rodeo Killeen last month. Parrish is a rising star on the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association circuit.

As a kid, Shelbie Parrish fell in love with the feeling of being on a dirt bike. The freedom, the adventure and the thrill. 

That was until she traded it away for something with a little less horsepower and her life has not been the same since.

Now Parrish, of Killeen, is one of the rising stars in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association and hopes to become a star on the circuit.

“Very busy, but I’m enjoying it,” Parrish said about her summer. “This is what I like to do.”

Parrish began riding dirt bikes at an early age. When older sister Kelsey Miller received a horse as a birthday present, Parrish’s focus changed.

“Watching her ride the horse grew on me, too, and I just kind of stuck with it,” Parrish said. “I’d like to make a career out of it.”

Barrel racing came naturally to Parrish.

She attended Florence High School and graduated in 2013. But when it came time to looking for a college to attend, Parrish turned her attention northwest to Tarleton State University in Stephenville.

“Their women’s and men’s teams have won plenty of championships so I knew they were good and I knew I wanted to go somewhere that took rodeo just as serious as I did,” Parrish said.

Parrish is entering her sophomore season as a member of the TSU rodeo team. She is a criminal justice major who is interested in pursuing a career as a pre-sentence investigator as a fallback if things in the pro rodeo circuit don’t work out.

Parrish’s discipline and work ethic are key toward balancing her studies at TSU and being on the school’s rodeo team.

“I’m just a really dedicated person as it is and I always want to do the best at anything,” Parrish said. “You just have to really want to do it. And I think it also helps me to have animals that are relying on me to feed them in keeping a structured daily schedule.”

Parrish is spending the summer working on her craft on the WPRA. She is 13th in the WPRA rookie standings and has earned $3,329 this year.

Contact Albert Alvarado at

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