The North Dakota High School Rodeo Association (NDHSRA) was created in the 1950s. After nearly 70 years, it is currently made up of 175 members statewide. These students, grades nine through 12, compete at 16 rodeos in the fall and spring seasons including the North Dakota State Rodeo Finals.
There are members from every corner of the state and throughout. With the top four in each event moving on to compete at nationals, the NDHSRA has proudly had some successes resulting in national champions at that professional level of competition.
Dakota Community Bank & Trust (DCB&T) has been a long-time sponsor of the NDHSRA Bull Riding Champion saddle and the national team t-shirts. NDHSRA’s Marketing Director, of six years, Stacy McGee mentions, “When I think of Dakota Community Bank & Trust, they are always wanting to help improve every community, and surrounding community, that they are in. Especially in our community, you always see them barbequing, volunteering, or lending a hand no matter the function going on.”
DCB&T also sponsors the North Dakota Junior High Rodeo Division (NDJHRD) all-around saddle each year. This division, started in the early 2000s, is made up of approximately 120 members in grades six through eight. “Dakota Community Bank & Trust’s junior high sponsorship allows us to reward the junior high all-around champion with a saddle, which is pretty cool for the junior high kids. It’s a pretty big deal,” says McGee.
The members of the NDHSRA and NDJHRD goal is to earn a spot on the national team and a championship title and saddle. Throughout the season the members earn points in each event at every rodeo which is carried into state finals. The top four in each event earn a spot to compete at the national’s. State finals is where anything can happen from smashing your goals to falling just short of it. A competitor can come in last hole and win a championship, or a competitor can come into finals leading an event and miss making it to nationals. “You see a lot of kids whose goal is to be the champion. They have some ups and downs throughout the season and then all of a sudden there is state finals – where anything can happen. Someone who comes in in first place could leave there in fifth place. I’ve seen where fifth place had an amazing finals and won the saddle. So those are fun to see but sad at the same time. It’s a bittersweet thing for quite a few people,” recalls McGee.
In recent years, the NDHSRA and NDJHRD state champions have been recognized at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. Each year new displays are set up to recognize the champions in both divisions alongside various memorabilia. NDHSRA & NDJHRD have several national champions that are also displayed all the time at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora, ND.
McGee believes that the sport of rodeo helps the kids grow in confidence and build strong character traits from hard work, dedication, and goal setting, McGee has witnessed character being pulled out specifically in rodeo throughout the student’s years within the program. “They are goal oriented. They are hard workers. They are striving for their greatest achievement at that time which would be to earn the title of champion and to sport their saddle on their horse. That is a huge deal to them.”
For more North Dakota High School Rodeo information including membership, scholarship, sponsorship, national awards, and more please visit: http://ndhsra.org/.
Written by Lindsey Hefta, Marketing Director