Debbie Blakely

Debbie Blakely, a retired teacher and coach, is actively involved in this year's 34th annual Limestone County Sheriff's Rodeo and Rodeo Queen Pageant. Blakely, the wife of Sheriff Mike Blakely, was inducted into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

This week I sat down with Debbie Blakely, wife of Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, to talk about the annual Limestone County Sheriff's Rodeo and Rodeo Queen Pageant.

Debbie was born at Athens-Limestone Hospital and graduated from Clements High School. She went to Calhoun and earned an associate degree in physical education. She went on to receive a degree in education with a concentration in health and physical education from Athens State University.

She retired from Ardmore High School where she taught and coached basketball and volleyball. Prior to that, she taught and coached at Tanner High School for 16 years. The girls basketball team she coached there won two state championships.

Debbie knew she wanted to be a coach since she was in the seventh grade, and said she was inspired by a lot of great coaches. She was inducted into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

Sheriff Blakely is now in his ninth term and has served as sheriff for 34 years. Mike and Debbie have one son, Andy, a nuclear operator for the Tennessee Valley Authority. Andy and his wife Dawn have two sons, Luke Johnson and Ben Blakely.

This year's rodeo is the 34th annual event, with the first held in 1982. Sheriff Blakely did not have enough cars for his department, so the rodeo was started as a means to supplement the cost.

The Rodeo Queen Pageant has several different age groups, and 54 contestants signed up to compete this year. The winner of the pageant will receive a $1,000 scholarship donated by Ramona Robinson and her daughters Casey and Shelby in memory of Ramona's husband, R.W. Robinson. The winner will also receive a custom-made saddle, a set of luggage, banner, crown and bracelet. The winner will also be entered into the Miss Rodeo USA Pageant in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in January. Girls from all over the U.S. and Canada will compete in the national pageant.

Rodeo events begin today with the parade set for 11 a.m. The parade will begin at the Sheriff's Rodeo Arena on Alabama 99. Anyone is welcome to be in the parade as long as you have a horse to ride. The lineup begins at 10 a.m. at the arena. A number of events will be held through the week leading up to the rodeo, set for Friday and Saturday at the arena. See the front page of today's edition or visit www.limestonesheriffrodeo.com. for more information. Please come out and support our Limestone County Sheriff's Office.

Here's a look at other upcoming events:

• Athens High School will host its graduation ceremony Thursday at 7 p.m.

• Singing on the Square is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, May 20. Admission is free.

If you have any news to share, please email me at agibbs@my.athens.edu or write to me at P.O. Box 553 Athens, AL 35612-0553. I hope to hear from you soon.

One more thing — When you finish reading this article please call your mother and tell her you love her. I sure wish I could call mine.