Coming to you from the southern end of the beautiful Golden State, I am 23-year-old
Brittney Phillips, your Miss Rodeo California 2017.
I was brought up in a small town on the outskirts of San Diego County, a little piece of paradise named “Ramona.” She’s nicknamed “the valley in the sun” for good reason. Our weather in sunny San Diego is pretty spectacular 95 percent of the year, I would say. It made for so many memories, saddling up before the sun and riding with the six other girls in my neighborhood until the sun went down again.
My path to becoming Miss Rodeo California wasn’t quite your typical one. I was fortunate enough to grow up with horses consistently in my backyard and finally got one of my own for my eighth birthday. From there, I began running barrels and instantly fell in love with the sport.
I didn’t come from a long line of farmers or ranchers, or generations of rodeo contestants. However, my grandfather would proudly say he rode saddle bronc horses alongside Casey Tibbs for a short time. My mother grew up riding and competed for the title of Miss Rodeo Ramona in 1983, the title I was later was crowned MRC under. That was about as deep as my rodeo roots ran.
I started out racing motocross, believe it or not, but I knew there was something about rodeo that made me feel right at home. My hometown rodeo will always hold a special place in my heart, because that is where it all began for me — sitting in the stands as a rodeo fan. I competed in my first rodeo queen pageant in 2009, and won my first crown in 2010. From there, I went on to represent numerous rodeos and communities around San Diego County.
When I was 14 years old, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Anyone who has remotely been touched by this illness can imagine how dramatically this affected my and my family’s lives. I had just won my first pageant, had just begun high school and was just getting a grasp on who I was supposed to be in this world. In a lot of ways, I needed to grow up really fast. It was then that I embraced my rodeo family — and they embraced me.
To this day, it amazes me how many people stepped up when my family wasn’t able to. Rodeo became an outlet — my second family — and sparked an even deeper respect for the people within it. Pageants taught me the importance of goal setting and the definition of work ethic. Being a rodeo queen taught diligence and showed me what hard work looks like, but also how it feels. The people behind this industry are what make it, and each person has their own very special “why.” As Miss Rodeo California, I make it a priority to spread the stories and triumphs of these hardworking individuals to encourage new faces, fans and sponsors.
Two years ago, I received an opportunity that was almost too good to be true; I was asked to join the marketing team for Boot Barn. Today, I manage sponsorships and donations for the company. Every day, I’m immersed in the goodness that swirls around our Western heritage, and I am continually confronted with the question of how to evolve the industry and make it better each and every day.
It’s my mission as I embark across the state and country to meet the people who make our world go round — the volunteers, rodeo committees, sponsors, contestants and all of the young women who share the same passion for growing our lifestyle. I want to hear their stories and understand their “why,” so I may, in turn, better serve and promote the industry that has already given so much to me.
Being involved in the world of rodeo is a calling for me; I’ve known from a young age that this is where I belong. It’s the people who make rodeo great, and it is my goal to promote the industry’s growth by supporting each and every person behind it.
Always stay true,
Miss Rodeo California 2017