“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing.”
It’s not just the hard work of traveling miles on end to various events with little compensation.
It’s not just the perseverance to wake up early and go to bed late with that same smile.
It’s not just the learning and studying for hours to better understand what you are representing.
It’s not just the sacrifice of having to deal with loss much differently than you ever imagined.
It’s the love for the sport you choose to represent because you believe in it with all your heart.
You may ask what it takes to become Miss Rodeo USA. I’m here to tell you there are no secrets. When we look into each other’s lives we tend see what is happening now but we forget about where it all started. At any certain moment it’s easy to overlook one’s journey, but we can’t forget to remind ourselves that success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. This is the story of my career as a rodeo queen.
The only thing I knew about rodeo was barrel racing. I thought if I knew how to do that, the rest should be easy. Well, I was completely wrong. I soon realized I had to learn all the events, rules, history, professional athletes, current events, record holders, slang terms, equine anatomy and much more. Need I remind you at the time I didn’t even know all the rodeo events. Mind boggling, right?! With my family having little connection to the rodeo industry I felt like a fish out of water. I knew if I was going to make this rodeo queen thing happen, I would have to work twice as hard. While preparing for my first pageant I made myself a set of notecards to study. I vividly remember the moment my family and I were sitting on the patio and they were reading through them as I responded. I was finally able to correctly answer every single one! I knew all my studying was paying off.
My first pageant…
I prepared for months before the weekend of the Junction City Rodeo. Finally, the day came. I packed up my pageant wardrobe and every single item I could possibly need or not need. I felt like I took everything, just in case. After two days of pageant events and a rodeo performance I was crowned Miss Rodeo Junction City 2015. Up until that point I couldn’t think of anything else I had worked so hard to achieve. This even surpassed the hard work I put into making a dress out of duct tape in high school for prom. Miss Rodeo Junction City was a title that my late cousin DJ had held years before, and it was very sentimental and rewarding to follow in her footsteps. My favorite memory after receiving the title was my aunt coming over to tell me my Papa Don knew I was going to win. He had passed away two months before the pageant and had told her he knew I was perfect for the job. Tears flooded my eyes as I thought about DJ and Papa and I knew that year I wanted to make them proud.
Life after winning that title was tough. Just a month after this new adventure started. I was at my first rodeo performance as a rodeo queen. My dad and sister arrived, and I knew something was wrong. They told me my mom had passed away from cancer. Right then I had to choose whether to fulfill my duties and stay until the next day or to go home. I chose to stay. That sacrifice I made taught me more lessons than I ever could’ve imagined. It taught me how to carry on in immensely hard times, and how to smile through some of the saddest moments. At the end of the day I knew my mom wouldn’t have wanted me to dwell on her death, but instead to persevere and stay. Every time you see my smile, know that it looks just like my mom Julie’s. It was my favorite thing about her appearance and something I try to carry on.
The next titles…
After completing my first year as a rodeo queen, I loved it so much I decided to try again for another chance to represent the sport. I ran for Miss Rodeo K-State and won that title the following year. What an opportunity it was to represent Kansas State University! Everywhere I went I had a unique connection with a large group of people, because I represented something they loved too and that was K-State. If I had a dollar for every time “Go Cats!” was yelled in my direction, I would be rich!
During my time as Miss Rodeo K-State, I decided I eventually wanted to become Miss Rodeo Kansas. This was because of the huge influence I had from Miss Abbey Sass. She was the reigning Miss Rodeo Kansas, a former Miss Rodeo K-State and my biggest role model. However, I felt I wasn’t quite ready for that big of a responsibility yet, so I decided to run for Miss CPRA and represent the Central Plains Rodeo Association instead. Achieving the Miss CPRA title was yet another connection to my cousin DJ. The Miss Congeniality award at that pageant was dedicated in memory of her, and I was voted by my peers that year to receive the award. Talk about a memorable moment!
These titles were the stepping stones that provided the opportunities, experiences, and knowledge it would take to move on to the next level. Before running for Miss Rodeo Kansas, I asked myself if I truly wanted to pursue another title. At the time I was just finishing up college, and my next step was to either get a job or continue to be a rodeo queen. I bet you can guess what my dad wanted me to do! Instead, I chose to run for Miss Rodeo Kansas. At the pageant, I placed 1st runner up, and I was devastated. I asked myself over and over what had gone wrong? I did everything in my power to win, and was met with complete disappointment. Then I remembered that in moments of despair sometimes we forget there is a bigger plan, a plan we don’t make for ourselves. While I had been so focused on why I didn’t win, I lost track of the bigger picture. The next year I came back with a burning passion to succeed and won the title of Miss Rodeo Kansas.
After my year as Miss Rodeo Kansas, I went on to place 3rd runner-up at the Miss Rodeo America pageant. It was a tough competition and I am proud of how it turned out. The most rewarding part of the pageant was being named Miss Congeniality by my peers. That honor truly made my heart so happy. I'm not sure those 25 other ladies realize how much that meant to me!
It took a lot of planning to run for Miss Rodeo USA. What you may not understand is while juggling the responsibility of Miss Rodeo Kansas, and preparing for the Miss Rodeo America pageant, I also had to apply for the Miss Rodeo USA pageant. At this time I was also sewing my entire wardrobe for these national pageants. To say it was a handful would be an understatement.
I ultimately decided to run for yet another title because I didn’t want to have any regrets later in life. I knew that if I were to see my dream of representing professional rodeo become a reality, I needed to give it my all and not miss out on a life-changing opportunity. Even though it was an incredible amount of work and logistical planning to make it all happen, in the end it paid off. After a month of crammed studying and preparation since returning from the Miss Rodeo America pageant, I headed to Oklahoma for a chance to win what would be my final title. I was blown away that I not only took home the title, but I won all the main categories as well. I would say that was quite a way to celebrate the final pageant I would ever compete in! Those moments as I was called up on stage to receive each award was the moment I saw all my hard work pay off. All that time I put into preparation had come to a grand finale, which was winning the title of Miss Rodeo USA!
Since being crowned Miss Rodeo USA, many people have asked what my schedule looks like. Within this first month, the majority of my time has been devoted to planning and schedule for the entire year! It’s crazy to think I pretty much know where I will be for the next 6 months. Certain weeks I will have events every single day. So far I have attended a handful of various events, school visits, and the K-State collegiate rodeo. My first IPRA rodeo will be in Brunswick, Georgia where I will then stay in the south for the spring rodeo run. Look forward to hearing about riding horses on the beach!
Becoming a rodeo queen opened my eyes to eventually competing in rodeos. It’s hard to sit back and watch others compete. I want to be in the action! I’ve set goals after this year to compete in IPRA rodeos as a barrel racer and a break away roper. I want to make it to the IFR within five years of being Miss Rodeo USA. I make my goals happen by writing them out and giving myself a timeline to reach them. By telling others and writing those “dream bigger” goals down, we can push ourselves to become something bigger and better than we were before. What’s your next “dream bigger” goal? Tell me in the comments for a chance to win a special prize at the end of the month!
Miss Rodeo USA 2020
While interviewing with KSNT this last week I brought my horse Mocha up to the house and she splashed in the water puddle spraying water and mud all over me. Luckily, it was the end of the interview and I didn’t get caught on camera with my new look thanks to my horse. She’s lucky I love her so much!
Ask for help! You will never get better at anything if you don’t try to get help. I always make a point to ask when I don’t know something. Whether that’s asking a fellow rodeo queen, director of a pageant, or a rodeo judge. No one will do it for you. You are responsible for your own preparation. If you don’t know how to do your hair, makeup, or a flying lead change, ask someone! I have never excelled from learning out of a book but if someone explains something to me I’m able to retain that information much better. One of my favorite memories as a rodeo queen was learning how to flank a bull thanks to Wacey Munsell at rodeo bible camp. You never know what experience you will come upon if you just put yourself out there.