The first impression one gets when meeting Sherry Cervi is that she’s pleasant, personable and conversationally engaging. The second is that she’s very tall. The statuesque blonde is not only a striking fixture in her well-appointed ranch home in the sprawling farming community of Marana, Arizona; she’s also a towering icon for girls and women across the West: one of professional rodeo’s most successful and accomplished barrel-racing athletes. With 19 qualifying trips to the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) and four world championship buckles, time seems to have little effect on her passion and ability to bring home the gold.
Growing up around horses, Cervi found herself in the saddle at a very young age and, before long, found a passion for barrel racing that would take her from a pony-riding toddler to one of America’s most celebrated rodeo stars. Along the way, Cervi had the good fortune to bond with great horses. Steadfast rodeo fans will recognize the barn names; Dinero and Tinman at the beginning of her professional career, but it was Troubles that brought Cervi to her first NFR in 1994, and who led her to her first world title in 1995.
A horse named Jet Royal Speed (AKA Hawk) however, sent the promising barrel-racing champion into high orbit. At the 1999 NFR Cervi rode Hawk in all 10 rounds, resulting in an astonishing year-end earnings total of $254,369. Cervi secured not only the NFR gold buckle and the WPRA world title, she also impressed the rodeo world by earning more at the finals than that year’s PRCA All-Around Cowboy, Fred Whitfield.
A year of challenge:
Change was in the air in 2001 when Cervi rode Hawk at the NFR for the final time. Age was an issue for the 16-year-old gelding and he had reached the peak of his athletic career. It was also in 2001 that tragedy struck. The 25-year-old rodeo star lost her husband, Mike Cervi, who was killed in a private plane crash.
“I had never lost somebody close to me and Mike was killed about three weeks after 9/11,” says Cervi. “I remember watching that all go down and those wives who lost their husbands, feeling sorry for them and hoping that I would never have to go through that, and then three weeks later I lost Mike. I think my strong family background and the beliefs I’ve been taught helped me get through that. I don’t know why it happens. But everything happens for a reason and you can let it get to you—crawl in a hole and never come out—or you can move on. It did take me a while to move on. I decided maybe my being able to go on and move forward can help somebody who is going through something in their life know that they’re not alone, and life can go on, which I know is easier said than done.”
Read the rest of the story https://cowgirlmagazine.com/sherry-cervi/
Posted by Sue Roake on May 28, 2017 at 4:50 PM under