SAN ANTONIO -

Sherri Mell can be found during weekdays at Edgewood Independent School District coaching kids through their physical education classes.

By night, she’s got her cowboy hat on tight, training or competing in rodeos locally and nationally.

"I started riding whenI was a baby and won my first trophy when I was 19 months old, so I was hooked after that,” she said, noting that the horse she rode in that first competition is the ancestor to those she rides today. “I ride that horse’s granddaughters and grandsons and great-granddaughters and nieces and nephews.”

Her career began in Salinas, Calif., as the daughter of a roper father and horse-showing mother. It was a ranching start that honed her skills, but there’s genetics at work, too. Her mother is still riding in her 70s.

“She’s still barrel-racing today and she’s 74 years old and she actually roped with me at the Women’s National Rodeo this year. We won a check in the bonus round,” she said.

She’s been inducted into the Hall of Fame for winning multiple world and national championships roping and other equine events. She’s active among breeders and still competing in roping events on Saturday nights at places like Tejas Rodeo in Bulverde.

“I’ve been teaching for 30 years and it’s just somewhere to get away and have a great time," she said. "Everybody asks what I’m doing this weekend, and I say ‘Just going to another rodeo.'"

And she’s still winning.

She’s also winning at coaching in yet her other job, as the director of the R.O.P.E.R. organization, which provides riding opportunities to those with disabilities. Some of them have also hit the big time in equine events offered by the Special Olympics.

For more information on Mell’s organization and career, visit this website.

For a schedule of events at Tejas Rodeo, visit www.tejasrodeo.com.

For a list of recent stories Ursula Pari has done, click here.