At 12 years old, Christi Braudrick knew that her dream was to attend Southeastern Oklahoma State University to compete in rodeo, the same team that she now coaches.
Braudrick grew up on a farm in Tahlequah, where her life revolved around all things athletic. From starting out in rodeo as a child, to state level rodeo competitions in high school, the Southeastern graduate wanted to be in the rodeo world for as long as she could. “I grew up in the rodeo world…my best friend and I made a pact to go to Southeastern to rodeo.”
Southeastern had built a reputation for being the winningest program in rodeo, and as a bonus that legacy was developed under a female coach.
When she got to Southeastern, Braudrick competed under rodeo world legend Betty Gayle Cooper-Ratliff, “My whole childhood [Copper Ratliff] was here. She’s what drew me down here,” Braudrick said.
Braudrick unknowingly gathered advice from her mentor as a student that shaped her coaching style and has had a big impact on how she runs the rodeo program today. “She was my mentor and I didn’t even know it back then… They say things happen for a reason and that’s the way I feel about this job. I’m so grateful we had all those conversations when I worked with her. When I first started coaching, some decisions were easier because I knew what she would do, ” said Braudrick.
The Southeastern graduate began her career as a basketball coach in public schools and gained 15 years of experience coaching young people in various sports across Oklahoma and Texas. After relocating to Durant, her dream job suddenly seemed within reach.
“I always said I wanted to do Betty’s job. I never would’ve dreamed that the path I took would lead me back here. It’s my passion,” said Braudrick.
She officially took the position and became the head rodeo coach for Southeastern in 2013. “Had I not had 15 year of public school experience, I don’t think I would have transitioned into this job as easily.”
Braudrick’s passion for education was instilled in her through her family’s strong value of learning l and has grown through her personal experiences. Her grandfather was an academic dean at Northeastern State University and her mother earned her masters in nursing administration.
“Education is huge in our family. My mom has always pushed me into pursuing education.”
At Southeastern, Braudrick feels her responsibility as a coach goes beyond the arena and her primary role is in encouraging her students to pursue academic success.. “Half the students I have will be first time college graduates in their family. I really try to push [education] because I know the opportunities that can give them in life.”
Not only does she love to see her students graduate, she encourages them to stay another year to compete as well as earn their masters degree.
Because of Southeastern and its opportunities, Braudrick was able to achieve her dreams. In addition to coaching, she continues to compete on the professional rodeo circuit, sometimes alongside her current and former students.
“I’ve been really fortunate, I’ve gotten to do things I love in my career. I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do, which is very rare. ”