DUNCAN, Okla. – Great stories are not always championships realized and life happily ever after.
Missy Long has a story to tell, and she will have the opportunity during the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association brunch held in conjunction with the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo, set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19-Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Stephens County Arena in Duncan.
The brunch will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Stephens County Arena Conference Center.
Long lived in Duncan when she won the barrel racing world championship in 1969 at the age of 13, making her one of the youngest world champions in WPRA history. Only Ann Lewis (10) and LaTonne Sewalt (11) were younger.
Long returned to the NFR a year later and finished 11th in the world standings. But life after her rodeo run wasn’t always as pleasant. A movie about her story, “Too Young To Drive,” is being made, and it will likely tell the tale of a woman who went from young world champion to a life with drugs, imprisonment and homelessness before she found the redemption through her faith.
It’s one of the reasons why she will speak to WPRA members next month in Duncan, where she moved to as a youngster so she and her brother, Ricky, could pursue rodeo. Their father, Al Long, introduced his children to the Youree Horsemanship and Rodeo Camps near Addington, Okla., and the family quickly found a home in Stephens County.
The Yourees directed Al and Missy Long to Joyce Burk Kernek, a Duncan cowgirl. Kernek had a nice sorrel, Leo Thistle, that Dale Youree believed would be a good fit for Missy Long. The Longs acquired the gelding, and Dandy helped carry Missy Long to the gold buckle.
Though she has since moved away from Duncan, local organizers of the Chisholm Trail Ram Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo and members of the WPRA are excited about Missy Long’s return to town to share her story and how she has returned to the glory of her faith.