Athlete Spotlight: Sommer Walker

The Mercer community takes pride in the Bears’ numerous sports successes. From Mercer Madness to homecoming, weekends are always full of various events, and there is always a reason to wear orange and black.

Weekends for Mercer junior Sommer Walker, however, look a little different. Walker studies communications at Mercer, but in her spare time, she is dedicated to her own athletic achievements.

Walker is an active rodeo athlete, having competed nationally, and is ranked high among her peers. A Middle Georgia native, she transferred to Mercer after two years at Troy University in Alabama. At Troy, Walker was a member of the College Rodeo team. When she first transferred to Mercer, she was contacted about helping start up a rodeo team for Mercer.

“It would be totally awesome because Mercer, out of any school in the southeast, has the money to fund it, but there isn’t enough desire for it,” said Walker.

She competes almost every weekend, having most recently competed in Aiken, S.C., and Waynesboro, Ga. Walker explained that scheduling her classes is a big issue.

“I was spoiled at Troy because we were student athletes, so we were treated better than the football team,” said Walker about class conflicts, “but I like to joke that, after coming to Mercer, I’m just a number, but at Troy I was somebody. It’s just different.”

Because of her active rodeo schedule, Walker has a couple of sponsors, including Riverside Ford, who provide her with a truck including all routine maintenance, oil changes and tires.

“I wear a patch on my shirt so that anytime I am in the arena I can get their name out because they are my biggest sponsor,” said Walker.

Oconee Concrete also sponsors her by covering her rodeo entry fees. Walker tried to get Mercer to sponsor her but ultimately never received a sponsorship.

“I think it would be great because, as much as I go and travel, I would be able to promote Mercer,” she said.

She commented that her parents, who both rodeoed, are her biggest supporters. “They help me out tremendously,” said Walker.

Before coming to Mercer, Walker participated in rope and tie as well as barrel racing events. Currently, she is trying to get her Pro Rodeo card and filling her permit, so her focus is only on running barrels.

“My plan is to go out west when I graduate and try to rodeo full time, so I’m really focusing on just one event right now,” said Walker.

Initially, she studied broadcast journalism, and while she does work at the local  Fox News, the closer she comes to graduation, the more she realizes she wants to pursue rodeo after college.

“I want to put that part of my career [reporting] on hold and go for my original goals. I’ll always have a degree under my belt. I just want to go out west and rodeo,” said Walker.

She said she wants to hit all of the big rodeos after graduation including Cheyenne, Omaha, Ft. Worth and Vegas. If she could, she would prefer not to have a day job and just focus on rodeo.

When asked what she loves most about her sport, Walker said that her rodeo family is wonderful. The atmosphere is encouraging and positive.

“Some of my best friends are also my competition… and it’s awesome to be in a sport where everyone is rooting each other on,” she said.

In addition to the rodeo community, Walker explained how she has been blessed with great horses.

“They have big hearts, they want to win and enjoy their job,” she said. “They are true athletes… I couldn’t think of anything more athletic than a barrel horse.”

Walker currently has two horses that she hauls to events. Her younger horse, Nonstop Dash (Prada), is clocking really well, but Walker has not entered her in any events yet.

“I’ve just been doing practice runs and letting her get used to the atmosphere… She handles it great,” said Walker.

With her good horse, Truckle Moon Deck (Penny), Walker has had multiple 1D placings and will be going to NCA (National Cowboy Association) Rodeo Finals in November, SPRA (Southeastern Professional Rodeo Association) Finals in December, IPRA (International Professional Rodeo Association) Finals in January and the National Circuit Finals in March. “She (Penny) has been the biggest blessing. She is what I rely on right now,” said Walker.

Concerning Mercer athletics, Walker wishes that Mercer would take the initiative to support rodeo.

“Mercer doesn’t realize that if they opened up a team, we would gain so much interest from the Southeast… because it’s the closest thing around without going to Kentucky or Tennessee… Plus it’s a great school with a great reputation,” said Walker, “I think it’s something for Mercer to look into for the future because, if they promote it, it would do really well.”IMG_0363