November 9 – Brianna Varney is a freshman at West High School, and she has a connection with the school that goes beyond academics.
“If I’m ever having a bad day, I can say, ‘I’m the mascot of my own school,’” Varney laughed. “I love it.”
Varney is a seasoned equestrian, a talent that fits in at West, where their mascot is a Cowboy. The school staff encouraged Varney’s interest in the sport and helped create space for her to explore her equine interests at West.
For the senior night football game, Varney was allowed to bring a special guest on the field to help the seniors celebrate: her horse and loyal companion, Bubba.
“A lot of people [at the game] have come up wanting to pet him,” Varney said. “I enjoy this school. They’re allowing me to bring one of the best animals here to their football stadium.”
On senior night, Varney and her grandmother, Cathy Stockton, were overwhelmed with support from community members. People came in droves wanting to pet Bubba, something Stockton likes to see.
“We live in the city, and there are a lot of kids who have never touched a horse,” Stockton said. “For them to get to pet a horse is awesome. It’s a dying culture, and I would like to broaden it.”
Stockton is thankful for the many opportunities she’s had to watch her granddaughter do what she loves at her school.
After the football game’s halftime show, Varney got to do what she does best – ride. She mounted her horse, and Bubba sprinted down the football field as the crowd cheered. Stockton said it means everything to her to see her granddaughter pursue her passions.
“Most children don’t get the opportunity to chase a dream, and that’s what she’s doing,” Stockton said. “We’re trying to make sure [her dream] is fulfilled.”
School has not always been a place where Varney feels comfortable. She struggled to find her niche in elementary and middle school. Now, standing by the West football field with Bubba and her grandmother, she said she feels at home. Varney may be new to West, but she knows she has found the school she wants to graduate from and the students she wants to learn alongside.
“[At West,] I feel not alone,” she said. “I have people my age that I can talk to. I feel included.”
Varney’s uncles attended West, so being a Cowboy runs in her family. Varney is looking forward to continuing the family tradition not as a Cowboy, however, but as the Cowgirl.