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Special K

11/6/2006

"Dream Big and Believe." That is the motto that two-time and reigning world champion barrel racer Kelly Kaminski lives her life by and it seems to be working.

At the 2005 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, Kaminski (Bellville, Texas) was not only the lone contestant to successfully defend her title, but she became the first barrel racer to win back-to-back world titles since Kristie Peterson won three in a row from 1996-98. For Kaminski, she described the second world title as "surprising."

"Winning the world title last year was surprising," Kaminski said. "I didn't really think I had a chance to win it until after the ninth round when we were on the Gold Coast stage and Bob Tallman said that I still had a shot."

Kaminski, who is perfectly content with not knowing where she is in the standings during the 10-day event in Las Vegas, recalls that she didn't approach the final run any differently knowing she had a shot to win the world again.

"My game plan has always been one run at a time and I know that sounds like a cliché, but that is how I approach it," said the champ. "I approached that final Sunday the same as I had all the runs before, and actually after I finished my run and they came to get me for my interview I said, 'Are you sure it is me?' It was just as exciting and it meant just as much the second time around."

Kaminski says "her reign as queen as been good," but knows she wouldn't be where she is today without her faith in God and her stellar steed Rocky.

"I have been blessed to win what I have and it is amazing to me," she says as she reflects back on her career. "God blessed me with a great horse. I know he is a once-in-a lifetime horse and hope we can continue our world title run.

"My goal every year is to make it to the (Wrangler) NFR and after that I just let the chips fall where they may. If the 10 days ends with a world title, then great. If not, it won't devastate me because of what I have already accomplished."

For the school teacher turned barrel racer, there are many memorable moments, but two that stand out the most are the final round of the 2002 Wrangler NFR and the 10th round of the 2004 Wrangler NFR.

During the final round of the 2002 Wrangler NFR, Kaminski's first, she and Rocky turned in the second fastest time ever clocked in the Thomas & Mack rodeo arena with a 13.70-second run to win the round. Tammy Key had broken the arena record during the sixth round of that year's Wrangler NFR with a time of 13.63 seconds.

Her second-fondest memory was when she turned the third barrel during the 10th round of the Wrangler NFR en route to her first world title.

"I just remember turning that final barrel knowing that I had just won my first world title, but I had no idea that I was pumping my fist in the air when I left the arena until I saw the video and the pictures," Kaminski said. "All the emotion just overcame me I guess, but it was such a great feeling."

If 10 years ago someone would have told Kaminski that she would be a two-time world champion with a chance to add a third, she would have responded, 'Yeah right.' Now she looks back on her life and knows that no one can steal her joy or take away the experience she has gained the past several years.

"My motto has always been, 'Dream Big and Believe,' and I have learned that anything is possible with enough hard work and determination."