This blog was written by guest blogger Tim Merck. Tim is the father of Katherine Merck -Miss Rodeo America 2016!
The trail to the title of “Father to Miss Rodeo America 2016” began by watching my eleven year-old daughter, covered in dust and dirt, persuade a motley old horse at YMCA summer camp to line up with the other horses and young campers. At the time I had no idea where all of this would lead and that my wife and I were witnessing the awakening of our daughter’s passion and talents for all things equestrian, especially the western way of life.
Over the years, Katherine and I travelled hundreds of miles to horse competitions where we would spend the day waiting for her turn to ride a pattern in front of judges. Sometimes we drove home ecstatic and other times not so much, but always there was a sense that the best was yet to come. During these drives and days, I learned a great deal. It wasn’t about horses. It was about my daughter. I witnessed Katherine learning to compete, enjoying those who shared her love of horses, and gaining knowledge from anyone interested in providing her with a few points of equestrian wisdom. It was amazing to watch the metamorphosis of a young girl becoming an accomplished horsewoman.
The next thing I knew, Katherine was returning from college. Then, one day I learned that she was headed to a competition in hopes of becoming a rodeo queen. I still remember it well and the subsequent elation I felt at her becoming Miss Spokane Interstate Fair and Rodeo Queen 2014. Little did I know what was ahead of us. Next, it was on to the Miss Rodeo Washington 2015 Pageant where Katherine successfully attained the crown. Now, I knew she had achieved a true milestone in her equestrian life. Little did I know at the time that her new title meant another competition awaited in Las Vegas the following December.
I never imagined that one day I would be driving a pick-up truck and trailer filled to capacity with queen clothes for nineteen hours to Las Vegas in the dead of winter. I have no affinity for rodeo or horses and couldn’t imagine what lay ahead when I reached my destination. The Miss Rodeo America Pageant was wonderful, stressful, and very informative. I will forever be thankful to all who helped Katherine along the way and saw the potential in her as an extraordinary cowgirl. Furthermore, I learned that my daughter had found her way in life: she had chosen her own path, found her own passion, and become her own person. The night before the coronation I had a chance to ask Katherine how she was holding up, and she replied how great she felt because she had done all she could, given it her best shot, and, most importantly, been herself throughout the entire week.
When the crown was placed on Katherine’s hat as Miss Rodeo America 2016, I experienced a tremendous amount of satisfaction and peace. My little girl in the dirty, dusty corral at YMCA camp had found her own way in life. She had reached the pinnacle of success in her chosen field. She had become a strong, vibrant woman who could meet any challenge set before her. Most of all, she had done it herself while leading her parents along the path and not the other way around. No father can ask for more in life. Everyday I say a prayer thanking God for the blessing of having Katherine as my daughter.