For the past few months you’ve worked. Worked for your goals, your passions and for your dreams. You didn’t do it alone, you’ve had coaches, friends, and family with you every step of the way. For the past few months it’s been all about you. Then you arrive at the moment. The moment you’ve worked for. The moment that all the late nights, tears and stress have gone into. Standing under that spotlight, waiting, wishing and hoping that your name will be the last to be called. With a racing heart and shallow breath, you reach for the hand next to you, and then it happens. A gentle hand squeeze, and a genuine smile through heartbroken eyes of your 1st runner-up tells you that you did it. In that moment your dreams have become your reality, and in that same moment nothing is about you anymore.
Weaving through the backroads of America looking into the red eyes of my exhausted Cowboy Christmas calf-roper, I am reminded of my “moment” and the unique perspective I have gained since I stood on that stage in July of 2012. Being Miss Rodeo Colorado 2013, and finishing as 1st Runner-up at Miss Rodeo America, was truly one of the greatest character building experiences of my life. Traveling with my fiancé, Cade Swor, (4X NFR Tie-Down roper, I’m SUPER proud of him if you can’t tell!) I’ve seen countless girls awarded a crown in rodeo arenas all across America. There is nothing like seeing the smile on the face of a girl who has just accomplished something great, but in each of these smiles that I’ve seen, there is always a question of “Okay… now what!?” After that “moment” has passed, congratulations have been spoken and the flowers have wilted there is a no kidding JOB that has to be done. So what is the job of a rodeo queen? Well, here is how I see it, and hopefully here is a simple way for you to remember the basics that can help you be better at your job.
This is where expectation vs. reality can come as quite the shock to some girls. Being a rodeo queen is a thankless job. Being the first one there and the last to leave lends itself to being a job that is often overlooked. By accepting the title you have become a servant to that organization that crowned you, the rodeo you represent and the association that sanctions your event. If there was no saddle to be won, no autograph sheets to sign and no announcer that would utter your name, would you still have said “yes” to the job? A queen is a volunteer that has a unique job descriptions, and sometimes the only reward you get is a high-five from a muddy mutton-buster or a smile from the girl wearing a crown next to you. Accept it, embrace it, and love it!
Get moving! If you aren’t doing something, there is a job that isn’t being done. Ask how you can be helpful and be the best that you can be at the job you are asked to do. A rodeo is only as strong as the volunteers that work behind the scenes, so join the ranks and find joy in the little details that you get to help with. The most important jobs you will have are the ones that happen without the glow of a spotlight on you. No matter how small or messy the job, take pride in knowing that you had a part in making a rodeo run more smoothly.
Be a cowgirl! This job requires you to be around livestock. In the mix of running a sponsor flag or pushing calves out of the arena there are other people trying to do their job. The last thing a contestant or a pick-up man wants to worry about is a queen who isn’t comfortable on a new horse or a queen’s horse who isn’t ready for the crowd. Put in the extra effort to prepare yourself for the work that has to be done on horseback. Learn how to read cattle and get confident on problematic horses. When all else fails, find a little bit of cowgirl grit and take the challenge head on while also being mindful of you safety and the safety of those around you.
At the end of the day, anyone who can get past the gate men at a rodeo is on your same team. From contestants to parking attendants we all fell in love with a sport, America’s sport. As a rodeo queen, each of you has a unique responsibility to help the sport of rodeo thrive through embracing the traditions of the west and making them relatable to the people of the present. So, remember the “H’s” that make up the job of a rodeo queen, and be honored that you get to represent so much more than just yourself. Be humble, be helpful and be handy!