On the Ball

From Non-Roper to Challenger Champ: Sydney Ball Tops the WRWC Challenger Leaderboard 
Sydney Ball has been on top of the Women’s Rodeo World Championship Challenger division with her twin sister Sally for nearly four years despite a late start in the sport of team roping.
Sydney Ball heading a steer for her twin sister at the 2023 WRWC.
Sydney Ball heading for her twin sister at the 2023 WRWC. | Photo by Josh Homer/Bull Stock Media, courtesy WCRA

Sydney Ball picked up a rope for the first time just six years ago, but in 2023 she won the Women’s Rodeo World Championship Challenger world title on the head side and now sits atop the 2024 WRWC leaderboard.

Sydney, a Max Meadows, Virginia, native now living in Glen Rose, Texas, has taken the WRC by storm the last four years with her twin sister Sally—who’s third in the Challenger standings on the heel side with 3,980.5 points—making three trips to the WRWC and walking away with the 2023 world title. Currently No. 1 on the Challenger leaderboard with 4,013.25 points heading into the WRWC, Sydney has known since they started in the association that it was a perfect match.

“We started nominating and started seeing that we could win a lot of money in it,” Sydney said. “Because it’s outrageous the amount of money that it pays, and it’s a good deal. You can just nominate what you’re going to.”

Sydney’s start at 17

Sydney grew up around horses and has a second cousin that roped and college rodeoed, but that was the extent of her exposure to the sport. She played basketball until she was 17, the same year she first picked up a rope. Never really a fan of barrel racing and with very few opportunities to breakaway rope in southwest Virginia, Sydney’s been heading hardcore ever since.

Naturally competitive, Sydney roped the dummy every day and was always striving to get better.

“I didn’t take it not working out—it was never an option for me to give up on it,” Sydney admitted. “I wanted to figure it out, and I wanted to always get the most out of my days roping and stuff.”

When her dad felt Sydney and Sally were going to take roping seriously, he invested in a good horse for both girls and sent them on their way.

Texas transplant 

Sydney and her sister decided Texas would be a sound fit for them for college, a decision in part made thanks to WRC opportunities.

After earning some points at a WRWC qualifier series event at one of John Johnson’s JX2 ropings in Tunica, Mississippi, the twins decided to try and get qualified for the event. They travelled to another qualifier in Alvarado and wanted to look into colleges during their trip to the Lone Star State. 

Their stars aligned when the girls got in touch with Billie Bray, the chief marketing officer at Equibrand, who made some calls on their behalf, landing them with a place to stay at 11-time NFR qualifier Kevin Stewart’s in Glen Rose.

READ: Women’s Rodeo World Championship Headed to AT&T Stadium in 2024

“It was just like the perfect storm and kind of led us to where we are now,” Sydney said. “I mean, our roping, it’s 10 to 1. We wouldn’t have had the success that we’ve been lucky enough to have without meeting Billie and Kevin and all of them.”

Sydney is currently finishing up her bachelor’s degree in animal science at Tarleton State University while working a part-time job and roping every day.

Sister Sister

As twins, Sydney and Sally were built-in team roping partners from the start of their roping endeavors. And while they have lifelong chemistry, roping with a sibling isn’t for the faint of heart—something the twins have learned over the years.

“We need to leave our personal lives outside of the arena,” Sydney said. “If she’s upset with me that day, she needs to be upset with me outside of the arena. But I feel like we’ve matured a lot in it in the past three or so years since we moved out here and started taking it more seriously.”

Sydney and Sally Ball posing with their checks after winning the 2023 WRWC Challenger world championship.
The Ball twins holding their checks for winning the 2023 WRWC Challenger world championship. | Photo by Josh Homer/Bull Stock Media, courtesy WCRA

An almost endearing challenge the sisters face roping together comes from being each other’s biggest fans. As siblings, the pressure is almost higher than roping with different partners because Sydney doesn’t want to let her twin down.

“I think there for a while, it was hard—and even sometimes now—the pressure of just wanting to do good and win with her, it can be hard,” Sydney explained. “It can be harder than winning with someone else because I want to win with her, and I want to win for her. I want her to win.”

World of opportunities for Sydney through the WRC

Since their Tunica start with the WRC, Sydney has qualified for three WRWCs: Las Vegas in 2021 and Texas in 2022 and 2023. On top of going to all the qualifier series in Texas, Sydney nominates the BFI and multiple all-girl ropings throughout the year.

While Sydney is familiar with being on top of the leaderboard, winning the 2023 Challenger world title was a sweet taste of redemption.

Sydney and her sister entered the 2022 finals No. 1 in the leaderboard. In Fort Worth, Sydney missed their steer in the first round, ultimately costing them the championship. Disappointed, Sydney decided to work day in and day out for the next year to win the 2023 title, putting full faith in God and work day in and day out the next year to be prepared for the 2023 event.

READ: Women’s Rodeo World Championship Partners with Kimes Ranch, Set to Pay $750K

“We put our back numbers up right behind our mirror,” Sydney said. “We saw it every morning when we woke up and every day, I knew I wanted to do whatever I could that day to set myself up to be in that same position and not let happen what I let happen the year before.”

The preparation was successful, and the Ball twins left Cowtown Coliseum victorious in 2023. The only thing better than one world title could be two, especially with this year’s Championship Round concluding in AT&T Stadium.

“At least once in my lifetime I want to be able to say that I roped there,” Sydney said. “That’s a huge, huge goal. We’re just going to take it round by round and see what happens. I think [we’ll] go catch every steer and just see where we fall. If it works out, that’s great. And if not, we’ll get back to practicing the next day and figure it out for the next year.”

The 2024 Women’s Rodeo World Championship will take place May 13-18. The first four days of competition will happen at Cowtown Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas, followed by the Championship Round at AT&T Stadium in Arlington May 18-19. For more information, visit www.wrwc.rodeo.

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