WNCC rodeo coach wins world title

At 25, Nora Hunt and her boyfriend Tommy Lee, 23, are barely older than the students they coach as part of Western Nevada Community College's rodeo team in Fallon.

"We're learning as we go," Hunt said. "But being so close to their age, we can really identify with them, so we can help them with life's lessons along the way, too."

Instead of relying on age to earn the students' respect, Hunt is counting on her experience and accomplishments. And she has plenty of both.

The daughter of two rodeo parents in Coalinga, Calif., she started riding when she was about 4. She joined the professional circuit in 1997 and won her first world championship last year in breakaway roping.

Last month, she captured the tie-down roping world championship in the Professional Women's National Finals Rodeo at the Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas.

"It was awesome," she said. "Nothing beats it - nothing in the world."

Hunt also finished second in the all-around standings, third in breakaway roping and third in team roping.

She's hoping more girls will follow her lead. There are about 10 men on the team, but only one woman.

"My goal is to recruit some of the tough girls out of Nevada and California and get them to come here," she said.

Typically, they go to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, or out of state, but Hunt wants to convince more to stay closer to home.

"It's a small town and you're going to get all your general education credits like you would at any university," she said. "And we have a great practice facility and great practice stock."

Hunt's father is also a rodeo coach at a junior college.

"I always admired his job," she said. "It just seemed so perfect to spend your day doing something you love."

Hunt met Lee through her father, who coached him.

Both received rodeo scholarships to UNLV. Hunt received her master's degree in health promotion there, then moved with Lee to his hometown of Fallon to start the rodeo team nearly two years ago.

"I think there's tons of potential with this team," Hunt said. "It's a neat group and we're placed fourth in the region so far this year."

Hunt teaches a variety of counseling and personal development classes at the college. Lee teaches rodeo skills and management and rodeo production and promotion.

The team recently hosted its first intercollegiate rodeo in Fallon.

"It was so great," Hunt reported. "The community and faculty at the school jumped in and helped so much. It was definitely a team effort. This area and this community is really about supporting the kids."

For more information on the WNCC rodeo team or classes, call the Fallon campus at (775)423-7565.


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