PENDLETON - Round-Up Princess Jessi Wells has been called the quiet one on the court, but she vehemently denies the allegation. Wells will reign with Queen Cydney Corey and the three other princesses during the Pendleton Round-Up from Sept. 15-18. The contingent has been promoting the event and related attractions in Pendleton since spring.
This year's Round-Up court is the first in several years to have all members from the same town. All five young women grew up in Pendleton, attended middle school and high school together, and saw one another at church, barrel racing club or other community, Round-Up and school functions.
Princess Jessi and Queen Cydney even rode the same bus together to elementary school. Wells recalls keeping everyone on the bus entertained with stories, scary stories that she would make up.
"Cydney said because I kept her scared the whole time we were in grade school, she was banning scary movies and telling scary stories in the motorhome (when the court travels together to events.)"
In addition to making up scary stories to tell on the bus ride to and from school, Wells said she was "always scaring" her father because she did things like jumping into the water before learning to swim. She tries to do something new whenever she can - like a barrel roll on the inner tube - when boating and having fun in the water. In high school, she tried a back handspring on the gym floor that didn't work out as well as she planned or thought it would from her trampoline practice. She also enjoys jumping off cliffs into the water, but has been way too busy for any of that this summer. She has tried skateboarding at the Pendleton Recreation center where she works.
"It's way harder than it looks," she said, "to keep your balance on something rolling out from underneath you."
She wants to try the horse-riding stunt where the rider holds onto the saddlehorn and stomps their feet on the ground first on one side of the horse and then on the other while the horse is running.
"My parents won't let me try that until after Round-Up," she said.
Not just a daredevil, Wells is genuinely athletic. She plays center field on the softball team for Pacific University at Forest Grove. During high school, she was named a scholar-athlete for volleyball, basketball and softball. She has been a volunteer coach for youth girls basketball.
She just started playing golf this summer. A friend from Enterprise has been teaching her and the game she thought so boring when watching it on TV is "so much fun," she said. She has been golfing four times and is getting better already.
Wells has already begun fall semester at Pacific and will miss classes while she is at home participating in Round-Up next week. A few days away from classes probably will not hinder her studies too much, though, as a National Honor Society member in high school, she should be able to catch up quickly after cleaning up and vacating the court's horse stalls after Round-Up.
Now starting her sixth year of Spanish, she wants to study in Mexico her junior year to become more proficient at the language.
She works as a lab assistant while she's at school. She helps set up biology labs for several different classes and enjoys her work. Assessing her skills and majors, Wells said, she has decided to become a physician. She plans to attend University of Washington Medical School in the Seattle area. She plans to become an orthopedic surgeon and work with athletes and cowboys at rodeos. She may just write scary stories in her spare time.
She has been involved with Round-Up ever since she was 6 years old and her mother thought she and her brother might enjoy riding their horses in parades as pennant bearers, so signed them up. They had always ridden horses as a family, especially when on camping vacations. At first, she said, her parents would walk the whole parade route as they rode to be sure they were OK and didn't drop a flag.
"It was always such a big deal (among the youngest pennant bearers) to carry the American flag," Wells said, "because it's bigger and there's only one of them."
When her mother was home for a few days from Seattle where she had been staying for cancer treatments, Wells got to carry the American flag for the Dress -Up parade while her mother, 1973 Round-Up Princess Carol (Cassens) Wells, watched.
"It was way cool," she said.
Pennant bearers are among those invited to the work party when the court paints and cleans up their stalls for the Round-Up. She said she always enjoyed going to the work parties to be with the court. She admired them because "they made it a point to talk to the pennant bearers even though they didn't really know us," Wells said.
"When Jamie Bealer was queen, she was so nice to me," Wells added. "She would go out of her way to talk to the pennant bearers."
As Wells grew up, she branched out to other volunteer jobs such as selling programs, cleaning the grounds and working in the souvenir booth with her mother in 2001 and 2002. Volunteering as a Round-Up princess was the next logical step. The court is not an end to volunteering but an introduction to many other opportunities.
Hair: reddish blond
School: Graduated from Pendleton High School in 2003. She is a sophomore at Pacific University at Forest Grove this fall where she is a member of the softball team.
Parents: George and Carol Wells. He maintains signals for Union Pacific Railroad. She works in medical records at St. Anthony Hospital.
Brother: Jake Wells, 21, student at Oregon State University who works in Albany at the Safeway meat market.
Maternal grandparents: Rolly and Virginia Cassens, Hermiston
Paternal grandparents: Gene and Fay Wells, Hermiston
Other royalty in family: Mother Carol Cassens Wells was a Round-Up princess in 1973
Official horse: Smitty, 8-year-old sorrel quarterhorse borrowed from Monte and Becky Evans of Heppner. Buster, 9-year-old bay quarterhorse borrowed from Ed and Cathy Sherman of Pendleton.
Pets: Two dogs, Chip, a border collie and blue heeler mix, and Patch, a border collie and Australian shepherd mix, and two sorrel quarterhorses, Ozz and Eddy.
Current job: Opens the gym and supervises students for Pendleton Parks and Recreation Department. At the beginning of this summer, she made pizzas and took orders at Abby's Pizza, where they were very good at scheduling her work around her Round-Up schedule.
Activities: She is a past volunteer at the Pendleton Veterinary Clinic, a volunteer for the Festival of Trees, and a volunteer coach for Pendleton Youth Girls Basketball.
Honors: She has received the Pendleton High School varsity volleyball, basketball and softball scholar-athlete awards. She was named to the first team for All Inter-Mountain Conference softball and the second team All State softball. She is a member of National Honor Society, and has won the Denis Alexander Spanish award; the Kiwanis Club, Happy Canyon, Pendleton RoundUp and Pacific University Presidential award scholarships.
Hero: Angelina Jolie because she uses the money she earns from her acting career well. She has adopted a child from the third world, and she obtained a pilot's license in order to take food to starving children.
Favorite color: black and turquoise
Favorite food: macaroni and cheese and donuts, not necessarily together
Favorite sport: softball
Favorite type of music: punk
Favorite movie: "Braveheart" or anything scary
Favorite beverage: Mt. Dew and chocolate milk
Favorite thing to do: golf, boating and watching horror flicks
Favorite place: Wallowa Lake
Favorite thing to drive: Dad's Chevy pickup
Favorite rodeo event: bull riding
Favorite PRCA cowboy: The ones who can stay on for eight seconds
What she would like to say in print that no one has asked her: "I would like to express my appreciation for being selected for the Round-Up Court. It's been quite an experience and I'd like to thank the Round-Up board of directors, the chaperones and parents for giving me the opportunity for such a good summer and to do all of the fun stuff we get to do. I get to do the fun stuff and they get to do the work."