The National High School Rodeo Association was established in 1949 and currently boasts over 10,000 members from 42 states plus five Canadian provinces and Australia. According to the official website, nhsra.com, their mission is to “Promote the sport of rodeo and the highest type of conduct and sportsmanship and expose its positive image to the general public; Preserve the Western heritage; Offer a privilege of family bonding; Offer an opportunity of continuing education; Maintain the highest regard for the livestock.”
The participants are broken down into two age groups: Junior – grades six through eight and Senior – grades nine through 12. The top four contestants from each state participate in Nationals. The rodeo schedule runs through the school year with the state finals in May and Nationals in June.
Events include Reined Cow Horse, Barrel Racing, Breakaway Roping, Cutting, Goat Tying, Pole Bending, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Tie Down Roping, Ribbon Roping, Bull Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding, Bareback Riding and Shooting. Some events are gender and/or age specific.
Although New York may not be the first state that comes to mind when talking about rodeos, the New York chapter is alive and well with over 60 members statewide.
The current list of New York officers includes David Stein, director; Joe Migdal, president; Dennis Hannon, vice president; Linda Kruszka, secretary and Phil Meashaw, treasurer.
Although he himself did not participate in rodeos, Hannon was roped into the sport when his oldest daughter Hannah, now age 15, became interested about three years ago. Since then siblings Wes and Grace, 12-year old twins, have become involved.
Overall there are more females than males who compete in the sport although there are more events for males.
The High School Rodeo is a very family-oriented activity. With a long season — which basically follows the school year — plus practice time, participants are kept very busy. Competitors prepare for months in advance. Cowboy Church is often incorporated into the competition weekends.
This year New York Finals will be held at the Painted Pony Rodeo in Lake Luzerne, NY, May 18-20. For a complete schedule or to become involved visit nhsra.com , nyshighschoolrodeo.com or for western New York contact Hannon at 716.609.3565.
Hannon has the mindset of most parents when their kids are involved in a sport, especially one with risks. “You say a little prayer and let it roll.”