Pearl River hires rodeo icon to lead program
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River has identified a lifetime cowboy who’s synonymous with rodeo to lead the school’s program.
The Wildcats announced Thursday the hire of Frank Graves Jr. as the school’s new head coach. A Poplarville native, Graves brings a lifetime of rodeo experience to Pearl River.
“We’re excited to have Frank Graves Jr. lead our rodeo program. The Graves name is synonymous with championship rodeoing, not only in our area but nation-wide. Frank checks all the boxes we were looking for, including building interest from local kids in our program,” Pearl River Athletics Director Jeff Long said. “We look forward to seeing our program grow under Frank’s leadership.”
Graves takes over the head coach position from Robby Shaw, who will remain at PRCC in his position as a full-time instructor.
“We want to thank Robby for helping get our program off the ground,” Long said.
Graves’ roots in rodeo run deep. A professional cowboy, Graves’ trophy case is filled with honors dating back to 1986 when he teamed up with fellow Poplarville High freshman Kirk Davis to win the Mississippi High School Rodeo Association State Finals. Seven years later, Graves won the Ozark Region’s calf roping, team roping and all-around championships in addition to the ’93 NIRA Team Roping Championship.
In 2002 Graves won bronze in the Olympic Command Performance Rodeo. Two years later, Graves was named the Cheyenne Frontier Days Team Roper Champion and was the Jack Daniels Regular Season Header Leader in the PRCA ProRodeo.
Additionally, Graves, who attended Western Oklahoma State College and Tennessee-Martin was inducted into the UT-M Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Graves believes his experience and Poplarville’s rodeo ties will be a perfect fit.
“I have rodeod all my life. I won a high school national title, I won a college national title, I won a bronze at the Olympics. This is a rodeo town. We have a lot of rodeo champions in our town so I wanted them to have a rodeo program here,” Graves said. “Rodeoing got me through school and it will get both my boys through school. I think there’s a lot of kids in our area who rodeo, so it should be a big help for the community.”
Graves and his wife, Lisa, have three children: Bryce, Chase and Kenna.
Chase was a decorated member of PRCC’s rodeo team and Graves said his other son, Bryce, plans to represent the school as well.
Pearl River has five events set for the spring. The Wildcats visit Meridian on Feb. 20-22, Monticello, Arkansas, on March 5-7, Tennessee-Martin on April 16-18 and conclude the year at Northwest on April 23-25. PRCC is also working on finalizing details for its own rodeo, which is set for March 26-28.