Four-time Women's Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) barrel racing world titleholder Sherry Cervi exhibits the Standard of the West by living with integrity — inside and outside of the arena. She attributes the success of her career to the hard work and dedication she learned from her family’s lifestyle.
Her parents Mel and Wendy Potter, operate a horse ranch in Marana, Arizona, and a cranberry marsh in Bancroft, Wisconsin. Both competed at the esteemed National Finals Rodeo (NFR), her father in calf roping and her mother in barrel racing, so it was natural Sherry followed in their boot steps with a love of competition.
Sherry's childhood revolved around horses. From a very young age, she knew she wanted to be a barrel racer with the aim of qualifying for the NFR — even just once. Little did that young girl on a stick horse know the success that awaited her hard work. This passionate drive led her to qualify for the NFR 19 times, win 3 NFR average titles, secure 4 world titles, and an induction into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Sherry's career earnings soar upwards of $3M, making her the highest-paid female barrel racer in the WPRA.
"It’s doesn’t matter how much money or how many buckles I’ve won, but what kind of person I am outside of the arena."
Sherry knows the rodeo road is full of adversity and requires humility, but she travels the circuit with a grateful heart alongside her husband World Champion Heeler Cory Petska. She loves the adrenaline and excitement in the air at a rodeo and cherishes the community found on the circuit. Despite the natural ups and downs of competition, a positive attitude keeps Sherry focused on what she can control and keeps her driven in the saddle.
Sherry recognizes the importance of respect in the partnership she shares with her horses. While she expects a lot from them, she holds herself to the same standards. Sherry respects them by maintaining quiet hands, so she can stay out of their way. She develops a unique feel with each of her horses by letting them teach her through hours upon hours in the saddle. Sherry also emphasizes the importance of teaching barrel cues off the pattern, cross-training outside of the arena, and listening to her horses every step of the way.
At the end of the day, Sherry understands that being a good person means more than any number of buckles or checks. Her non-profit organization, the Sherry Cervi Youth Championships, is her way of giving back to the western industry which has been so good to her. The barrel racer recognizes youth are the future of the industry which is why it is very important to her to have a positive impact on young riders.
Sherry exemplifies the cowgirl way by walking with grit and humility at the highest levels in rodeo and everyday life alike. Sherry Cervi is the Standard of the West.
"If there’s a big bump in the road, you keep going.”