Sara Slover, Heather Hirsch, and Samantha Jordan are all champions and they have rooms filled with trophies to prove it. These teenagers have had to give up pastimes that most teens enjoy, to become champions on the livestock show circuit.
"I had to give up sports. I had to give up going out with friends every night," says Sara, a senior at Robert E. Lee High School. Sara has also had to take a bit of teasing about her championships in the pig division. "To some people that's disgusting because pigs, they're like muddy, but pigs are the smartest animal," she says. "They don't have any sweat glands so they have to keep cool. So they have to get in water, which is a mud hole."
Sara has won four grand championships with "Hot Tamale." As the saying goes, she can "laugh all the way to the bank" with the $12,500 she won with her grand champion steer at the Smith County Jr. Livestock Show.
All three girls have won hundreds of trophies and championships among them, but they agree that it takes time and dedication to raise champions. Fifteen-year-old Heather Hirsch, whose dad, Rick, is a county agent, has been showing animals almost as far back as she can remember. This Crossroads High School sophomore raised this year's Henderson County grand champion steer and also won honors at San Angelo and Houston. Heather admits she's competitive by nature. "Got to win this. I'm not here to get second because second's first loser. You're here to win," says Heather.
Sixteen-year-old Chapel Hill junior, Samantha Jordan, takes a somewhat more philosophical approach to the wiles of judges. "You just have to work on them and keep trying. If you get beat that's just one man's opinion on one day. You just gotta keep going," she says. Samantha's "keep on going" creed has paid off with trophies, buckles, two laptop computers, and a digital camera. She's the reigning Texas Supreme Scrambler after winning the Houston Livestock Show's Supreme Scrambler Contest.
Sara, Heather, and Samantha all get up early in the morning before school to work with their animals. After school, it's another two or three hours of exercise and grooming. Weekends are spent at various shows racking up points in showmanship. While the girls sacrifice so many things in their lives, they all say the friendships they make and the thrill of victory more than make up for it.
The girls will all be competing in the Jr. Livestock Show at the East Texas State Fair, which runs from September 22nd through October 1st.