Meet the 13-Year-Old Bull Rider Who's the Only Girl on the Aspiring Pro Tour
"Women can do anything," says Najiah Knight
After getting her schoolwork done, Najiah Knight is busy tackling an even bigger beast — literally.
The 13-year-old Oregon native is currently the only girl on the Professional Bull Riders tour’s miniature bull riders circuit across the country, and around the world.
“It doesn’t matter what people think as long as it makes you happy, just go for it,” she tells PEOPLE of making history.
Knight, of Arlington, says she first began bull riding at only age 9 after watching her father do so. “When I got my first bull it was pretty fun,” she says, insisting that she wasn’t that nervous taking on the animal. “I loved the adrenaline and the excitement it gave me.”
Now, she’s in her fourth season on the tour, where she rides among other aspiring pros between the ages of 8 and 13. Though the bulls the mini athletes ride aren’t quite as large as the pros, they still can weigh between 600 and 1,000 pounds.
Juggling the training and the average requirements of teen life, she shares, isn’t always easy.
“I work out every night,” she explains, noting a lot of training happens on bucking barrel with assistance from her dad. “We work on my arms and legs, we do lunges, we do bench press and then we do ropes and all different kinds of workouts.”
Knight is also running between basketball practice, volleyball practice and dance rehearsal. She muses, “I just love doing sports. I’m very athletic.”
Nothing, is quite like being atop a bull, though. For those unfamiliar, riders must ride the bucking animal for eight seconds, and are ultimately scored only if they manage to stay put.
“I just try to clear my head,” she says of those intense moments. “You’ve got to keep your posture, keep your feet, keep your hands and just follow the bull, just to jump.”
And yes, if Knight falls, there’s always the chance she’ll get stomped on. And she has “many times.”
She’s not phased though, explaining, “You know, you’re trying to get out of there and not get stepped on more than you have to.”
Knight has lofty goals for her future, admitting, “I want to be the first girl in the PBR. That is my life, dream goal.”
It doesn’t seem too lofty of a dream, though.
This week, Knight will be honored at the New York Rangers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs game at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan as an extraordinary girl in sports. Then, she’ll head to Los Angeles for the PBR Iron Cowboy Presented by Ariat at the Staples Center.
Says the rising star: “Women can do anything.”