Kindergarten teacher takes home the $20,000 prize and bragging rights as Pro Fantasy Rodeo’s first average champion.
January 26, 2004 – It was an educated guess that led Kim Kammenzind of Touchet, Wash., to choose her team of competitors during the inaugural Pro Fantasy Rodeo game. She followed the same advice that she gives to her kindergarten class – do your homework. That was exactly what she did with the help of her stepfather, Kevin Brown. Together they assembled a team of rodeo competitors who amassed total winnings of $540,272 throughout the 10-day Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, held Dec. 5-14.
“We’re all geared up to play again. We thought it was great!” – Kim Kammenzind, PFR Average Winner
They first heard about the inaugural Pro Fantasy Rodeo game during the Columbia River Circuit Finals Rodeo in Redmond, Ore. Kammenzind and Brown decided to play since they had participated in similar contests with their family and friends and they watched the Wrangler NFR every year. It didn’t hurt that Kammenzind is an accomplished barrel racer and breakaway roper who qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo three times and the College National Finals Rodeo twice. The two of them figured that they had as good a chance as anybody at winning a share of the $108,500 purse.
Kammenzind and Brown’s strategy behind choosing their team was to look at how each competitor had done in the past at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Each PFR player was given a $500,000 salary budget to purchase one rodeo competitor (or team in the team roping) from each of the seven events. Competitors were assigned a price according to how they were ranked in the Jack Daniel’s World Standings going into the Wrangler NFR.
“We decided which events we were going to spend the most money on and we also considered who had done really well at the (W)NFR in the past,” said Kammenzind.
Their team, called the “Northwesters,” consisted of bareback rider Cody Jessee, steer wrestler Luke Branquinho, team ropers Jake Barnes and Allen Bach, saddle bronc rider Billy Etbauer, tie-down roper Cody Ohl, barrel racer Janae Ward, and bull rider Zack Brown.
They knew that Ohl always performs at the top of his game at the Wrangler NFR, so they decided to spend more than a quarter of their budgeted salary cap on him. He proved he was well worth the expense by winning $102,158, more than any other tie-down roper.
Kammenzind received a little help from her friend when it came to choosing a bareback rider. She had grown up with Jessee and they graduated from high school with about 15 other people. Jessee’s Wrangler NFR earnings totaled $92,139, making him their third-highest winning pick.
By far their best bargain was in the barrel racing with the selection of Ward. Their least expensive pick, Ward entered the Finals ranked 14th in the world and left with more money than any other contestant at the Wrangler NFR. Kammenzind’s knowledge of barrel racing as a competitor helped give her the inside edge in selecting Ward.“Kevin Brown told me he was playing and he picked me,” Jessee said. “So, I told him ‘Well, I hope it works out good for you, ‘cause if it works out good for you it’ll work out good for me.’”
“I knew Janae Ward’s horse ran good on small patterns, so she was definitely a good buy,” she said.
In fact, four of their seven picks won more money at the Finals than any other competitor in that event. This included team ropers Barnes and Bach, who led their event with $81,079 in Wrangler NFR winnings.
The Northwesters won $21,000 by placing third in the ninth go-round and first in the PFR average. Kammenzind and Brown will split the money because they purchased the winning team together. Kammenzind said she will keep most of it in savings for now and perhaps pay off some bills or her student loans. However, both she and her stepfather have agreed to splurge on new saddles for each of them.
Currently, Kammenzind is working on her master’s degree and studying rodeo’s top competitors in anticipation for the next Pro Fantasy Rodeo game. When asked if she or Brown would play again, there was no hesitation.
“Oh, yes, definitely,” she said. “We’re all geared up to play again. We thought it was great!”