If you would have told me that I would run for the title of Miss Rodeo Arkansas even 4 years ago, I would have told you that you were crazy. Sure, I was born into a rodeo family and live in a state with a thriving agricultural presence, but I spent 4 years living 20 hours away from home and my horse, traveling the country as a singer throughout college.
How in the world does that coincide with a future in rodeo? Well, I can say with confidence that God always has a plan better than what we can dream up for ourselves, and now that I’ve found myself on this journey as the 2016 Miss Rodeo Arkansas, I could not feel more in the pocket of His will for my life. Growing up, I remember traveling the rodeo circuit with my dad, watching him team rope and then running barrels after him on my horse, Showdown. Those late night, post-rodeo drives home with George Strait or Tracy Lawrence on the radio, that mid-summer air blowing through the open windows, and of course my father’s incessant tapping on the top of the truck to keep himself awake and alert for hours on end, all define my childhood. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I love rodeo and everything the sport encompasses. The traditional values such as sportsmanship, integrity, hard work, and diligence are easily seen within the rodeo community. The various types of athleticism that each rodeo event requires of its competitors has always fascinated me, too: from the big man’s event of steer wrestling to the fierce women who make up barrel racing, there are so many different types of athletes with a common, foundational passion for rodeo.
Growing up experiencing those values firsthand and admiring the myriad of athletes is what made me want to become a rodeo queen. I held my first title in 2000, riding a horse that tried every muscle in my body to even break a trot. He was mine, though, and that’s all that mattered. I have always loved barrel racing, ranking number 10 in the state of Arkansas as an NBHA Junior barrel racer at age 6. My dad rubber-banded my feet in the stirrups because it gave him more peace of mind about putting me on a fiery, 15-hand horse at such a young age (a memory at which my family still laughs about at most every family event). Fast-forward to 2014, and I had the opportunity to represent my hometown PRCA rodeo as Miss Rodeo of the Ozarks. I had just graduated from college with my Bachelor’s degree in English and felt a strong desire to return to my rodeo roots. To serve alongside such an amazing rodeo board of influential people, including the 2015 WPRA Lifetime Family Heritage Award winner, Pat Hutter, really lit my fire to keep going and work hard for the title of Miss Rodeo Arkansas.
It’s truly because of the Rodeo of the Ozarks board that I found my passion for representing PRCA rodeo and the men and women both in and out of the arena that make it all come together. As the 2016 Miss Rodeo Arkansas, I hope to continue utilizing my passions and talents to further the sport of rodeo in my own unique way, reaching pockets and spheres of people that normally would not receive any sort of education about our sport. I have had the honor of singing the National Anthem at multiple rodeos, as well as sporting and community events, and it has been an amazing experience to proudly wear my hat and crown, representing rodeo in atmospheres where it normally isn’t promoted or seen.
I also see an incredible amount of value in the investment in the next generation. Today’s world is full of messages that communicate that we have to conform to some sort of identity or mold depending on what we are interested in, but I love promoting the truth that real happiness is found when we embody all of the giftings and passions that God has given us, and utilize them to be the best representative of whatever platform we are given.