Kiln, MS - What looks routine for Andrew Burks has been a work-in-progress since the sixth grade.
After graduating from Hancock High School, Burks wasn't sure how much time he'd get to spend calf-roping, until Pearl River Community College launched a rodeo team.
"I probably wouldn't have started because I didn't really want to leave home," Burks said. "And then PRCC was really close so I could stay home, practice and go to school. Didn't have to go way off so I'm glad they started that."
Burks took advantage of the opportunity, advancing all the way to the College National Finals Rodeo as a freshman. Burks placed third with a low tie-down time of nine seconds and an average of 42.6.
"To go out there and represent [PRCC] and for the first year to have such a great year, it felt pretty good," Burks said.
"For me to see Andrew make it to the finals in our first year of competing, it was an awesome feeling," said PRCC rodeo coach Robbie Shaw. "Representing the college, I knew he had the potential. From coming up through the high school ranks, he's finished top in the state of Mississippi a few times."
The national finals in Casper, Wyoming wasn't Burks' first rodeo. The calf-roper from Kiln made it to the national high school finals and boasts a personal-best time of 7.5 seconds.
Of course, his dream is to make it to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lucky for Burks, he's able to pick the brains of Herbert Theriot and Frank Graves - two Poplarville natives that have made it to Vegas.
"They show you the basics and you just have to take your own style and take it to the next level," Burks said. "Really work at it and form your own habits and go from there. We'll definitely try to make it to the NFR in Las Vegas after all this hard work.
"He has the natural ability, good hands, he has a good horse there with him," Shaw said. "As long as he keeps his head straight and focused on what he wants to do, he can go to the NFR eventually."
For now, Burks is just enjoying his Mississippi summer. With Hank the cowdog looking on and lasso in hand, Burks rides his horse B.B. and plays cowboy.
"Cowboying is a way of life, really," Shaw said. "And what you see in the rodeo arena is just cowboys having fun, competing against each other just like two boys out there playing football or basketball against each other."