“Leave them with a smile,” said Judy Boozer, the first recipient of the National Cutting Horse Association’s (NCHA) Sandy Sokol Show Secretary of the Year award.
Six months ago, NCHA Vice President Ron Pietrafeso convinced the NCHA Executive Committee that as show secretaries are paid employees and not eligible for the Member’s Hall of Fame, they should be recognized for their hard work, as well. With that, a call was put out for nominations, resulting in letters from across the country for well-deserving secretaries to be recognized.
“We went through a process where our committee talked to others about the nominees after reading the letters, and we also asked that people let us know who they would endorse,” Pietrafeso said. “Overwhelmingly, it was Judy who people mentioned as being a person who volunteers sacrificially and puts others before herself. They even talked about one incident where Judy refused to be paid by an affiliate because she was afraid they wouldn’t be able to afford it. That’s the kind of person she is.”
The award is named for the late Sandy Sokol, a secretary whom Pietrafeso said would have certainly been one to be recognized had she not passed. Both Sokol and Boozer will be recognized at the June NCHA Convention.
“I’m just in awe that I would be recognized,” Boozer said. “I had a little whiff that something was happening, so I am not altogether surprised, but I am so excited and appreciative to be honored.”
Boozer, 73, has been an NCHA show secretary for 36 years and has mostly served cutters on the East Coast during weekend shows. She still recalls when she was “forced” to move to computers.
“I had always done everything by hand, and all of that was moving to computer. One of the NCHA directors from up around here told me I was going to move into computers, so I was kind of forced into it,” she said with a laugh from her Enoree, South Carolina, home. “I had some people help me, because I was horrified. If he hadn’t forced me to do it, I would have fallen out of the loop and probably would have given it up.”
Boozer is quick to thank friends like Ora Diehl and Ellen Wallius for putting her name forward as a nominee, as well as Becky Elliott, Macon Massey, and her daughter and son-in-law – Vandy and Brandon Walden.
Judy had some sound philosophies about being a show secretary.
“I don’t mind hard work. I make sure I do it with a smile and without a complaint, trying to keep the cutter and the NCHA in mind,” she said. “I want to be polite and cordial and be a friend – just be a friend.”