Alaska's first Rodeo Queen Michelle Schade of Homer prepares for the International rodeo competition in Wyoming.
Alaska's first High School Rodeo Queen, Michelle Schade of Homer and Rodeo Team Alaska will be heading to the lower 48 next week and the International High School Rodeo competition in Gillette, Wyoming. This will be the first time Alaska has ever been represented in the sport of rodeo at an international competition, according to Alaska High School Rodeo Association youth advisor Mary Rainwater. The team which will be competing for prizes and college scholarships is made up of Rodeo Queen Michelle Schade, Jackie Rainwater, from Soldotna, Jennifer Murray, Soldotna, Colten Jenson, Soldotna, Raymond Smith, Anchorage, Paul Cambell, Soldotna and Amanda Merchant.
Advisors Mary Rainwater and Micah Robinson with Rodeo Queen Michelle Shade & Team Alaska prepare to head to Wyoming for the International Rodeo competition.
Rainwater says the purpose of the High School Rodeo Association is to promote education, community involvement and teach kids different job responsibilities. "These kids have done everything from bake sales to sweeping parking lots and washing cars, you name it, they've done whatever they've been asked to earn their way to Wyoming and if it wasn't for the support of our local business community from here to Anchorage and Homer, it would not have been possible to get to Internationals," said Rainwater. "All of our High School Rodeo Association events are put on by the kids with the adults only serving as advisors. The kids have to make their own decisions about how to judge these events, market and advertise them. The whole idea is to give these kids skills to succeed later in life as adults, and to help earn money for college," added Rainwater.
While many of the kids that compete throughout the year in the Alaska High School Rodeo Association events come from agricultural family backgrounds, others live in town with families that have no rodeo experience, "Many of the kids come out here just to try it out and have fun. Their parents recognize the life skills and values our kids learn and become very supportive. Our organization is growing all the time," said Rainwater. The High School Rodeo Assoc. is headquartered in Soldotna and utilizes the Soldotna Rodeo grounds, but their advisors and directors range from Anchorage, to Sterling and Homer.
Michelle Schade, whose grandfather homesteaded in Homer, is looking forward to the International competition, "It's exciting, I'm very proud to be representing Alaska and I am honored to be its first Rodeo Queen," said Schade in an interview while training at the Soldotna Rodeo grounds last week. In Wyoming, Schade will doing a lot more than her horsemanship patterns, she will also compete in modeling, speech, and have to answer impromptu questions before a panel of judges similar to a Jr. Miss competition.
Another member of Rodeo Team Alaska is Ray Smith of Anchorage who has been riding bulls since he was two and is looking forward to the International bull riding competition in Wyoming. Paul Campbell from Soldotna enjoys competing in horseback riding, roping and bull riding and appreciates the community support and having the rodeo grounds in his backyard to practice and learn new skills. The team leaves for Wyoming July 14th and will compete at the International High School Rodeo Championships July 18-24. Anyone interested in learning more about the Alaska High School Rodeo Association or helping to support the first ever Rodeo Team Alaska may call Mary Rainwater at 262-5568, Micah Robinson at 260-6127, or Ina Jones in Homer at 235-4425.
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