A song in her heart: Singing helps Nebraska cowgirl remember dad | TSLN.com

A song in her heart: Singing helps Nebraska cowgirl remember dad

Ansley Wood pole bends at the 2017 Neb. State High School Finals Rodeo in Hastings. The Wallace, Neb. cowgirl has sung the national anthem at sporting events throughout her high school years, including rodeos. Photo by Jill Saults

Wallace, Neb. (May 14, 2018)

Ansley Wood has used music to help her get through the tough parts of her life.

Ever since she was a little girl, she’s been singing.

And after her dad passed away, she continued singing to get through it.

The Wallace, Neb. cowgirl, who rodeos in the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association, has had a song in her heart since she was a toddler. “You could catch me singing at any point,” she said.

Her dad encouraged her and sang with her. Driving, they’d sing together. And in the mornings, the family could hear him belting out songs, especially Gretchen Wilson tunes. “We could always hear him through the house.”

Her dad, Tab Wood, was diagnosed with colon cancer in October of 2014 and passed away three months later. He always encouraged Ansley, especially at rodeos and school sporting events, to sing the national anthem. “I couldn’t get out of singing the anthem,” she said. “He was always signing me up (to sing). If somebody talked about it, he’d be the first to say, ‘my daughter sings the anthem’ and he’d be the first to take a video of it and put it on Facebook.”

Ansley competes in high school rodeo in the pole bending, breakaway roping, team roping and barrel racing. She has sung the national anthem at several high school rodeos: Gordon, Thedford, Stapleton, Valentine, Mitchell, Harrison, Crawford, and at the Nebraska State High School Finals Rodeo in Hastings. She used to get very nervous, but not anymore. She is most comfortable singing in front of the biggest rodeo audience she has sung for, at the state finals in Hastings.

She is a senior at Wallace High School, where she graduated fourth in her class with a 3.97 grade point average. She plans on attending the University of Nebraska at Kearney this fall to earn her bachelors of science in nursing with a focus on pediatrics. She knows the difference a compassionate and kind heart can make. “As we spent time with dad in the hospital, I saw how (nurses) impacted us. Being a nurse was something I wanted to do, and I want to make families happy like we had a lot of nurses make us.”

Her mom Lisa said her daughter, the youngest of the Wood children (Lisa and Tab had two older kids: son Lane and daughter Kelsey) is positive. “She likes to make the world happy,” Lisa said. “We’ve had a lot to overcome, with losing my husband and their father. But through it all, we have stuck together. She has helped me remember to find the positive in other people. That’s one of her best qualities: being upbeat and wanting everybody to get along.”

Her “rodeo family” has been helpful to her and her mom, too. “After my dad passed away, I got a lot of support from a lot of people. That’s been special to me.” The Jason Mathis family has helped her find a new team roping horse after her former horse was injured. Her mom has been her biggest support, however. “When my dad passed away, she had to pick up extra hours at work to support us. She never said, maybe we should take a season off of rodeo. She just picked up more work. She made everything possible. She’s an amazing person.”

Ansley will enter college this fall with eighteen college credits. She has qualified for the Nebraska State High School Finals in 2016 and 2017 and has qualified this year in the pole bending.

The Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo will be held in Hastings at the Adams Co. Fairgrounds June 14-16. Tickets are $7 for everyone ages five and up and are available through the office and at the gate. For more information, visit AdamsCountyFairgrounds.com or hsrodeo-nebraska.com, or call 402.462.3247.

–Adams County Ag Society

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