Rodeo has been a part of Tate Thomas’ life as long as he can remember, and now rodeo has opened the door for him to the next chapter of his life.

Thomas, who graduated from Sonoraville High in May, recently signed a scholarship to continue his career on the rodeo team at Weatherford College in Weatherford, Tex. He said it has been a long process, but he is very excited for the opportunity and ready to get going.

“It’s really cool,” said Thomas of signing the scholarship. “My parents did it, and that’s how they met through rodeo, and I’ve been telling them since about the fourth or fifth grade that I was going to get a scholarship and continue rodeo in college. It’s really driven me to work hard and try to make it happen. This is a huge blessing for me.”

Thomas has competed all over the state of Georgia and all over the country over the past several years, winning numerous awards, saddles, buckles and more for his performances. And when he wasn’t competing in rodeos, he said he was doing something almost every day to improve his skills or work with his horses.

“Since about the seventh or eighth grade as long as the weather allowed, I did something pretty much every day,” said Thomas. “In the summer especially, I was doing different things to try to improve or work with my horses. I feel like I’ve worked at it non-stop. I probably wouldn’t know what to do if I wasn’t doing something with rodeo every day.”

Thomas will compete in three events at Weatherford, including tiedown roping, steer wrestling and team roping, and he added that he will likely be taking three of his horses with him to college to compete with him.

Thomas said he wants to study marketing or business at Weatherford and hope to tie that in with agriculture. He said Weatherford was the best choice he could make after receiving multiple opportunities based on his ability and performances.

“I looked at about three different schools, and there wasn’t any bad schools in my opinion,” said Thomas. “I felt most at home at Weatherford, and that’s why I signed with them. It’s a relief to have signed and know where I’m going to be. I’m just going to keep working and trying to improve now.”

Thomas will compete in the IFYR in Shawnee, Okla., and the NHSRAA National Finals Rodeo in Rock Springs, Wy., in July before heading to college in August.

Thomas is the son of Matt and Julie Thomas, of Calhoun.