Back on the bull: rodeo club revived at University of Saskatchewan

SASKATOON (CUP) — “This is finally an opportunity for Canadians to do rodeo and get a university degree,” said Shelby Clemens, president of the University of Saskatchewan rodeo club.

Clemens is excited about the club because it officially makes the U of S the only Canadian university to offer students an on-campus club that competes against other post-secondary schools in rodeo events.

The U of S rodeo club is a revamped take on an old idea that lost student interest a number of years ago.

While the club had technically remained as the part of the Stockman’s and Rodeo Club in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, it was only the stockman’s side of the club that remained active as the rodeo side garnered almost no interest in the last 20 years.

That was until last January, when Clemens contacted Katie Dutchak, a second-year arts and science student and a member of the Huskies wrestling squad.

Dutchak and Clemens became friends competing against each other in high school rodeos.

“Shelby came to me with the idea of throwing a team together and immediately we both saw there was so much potential for this,” Dutchak, who is now the vice-president of the club, said.

The two women said they were impressed by the response from people wanting to get involved.

“We went out to people in the rodeo community to see what they thought … Students, sponsors, faculty, friends, family and everyone else were really excited,” Dutchak said.

The club got such a positive response that they decided the best way to promote the rebirth of the campus club would be to host a rodeo and invite colleges and technical institutions to compete in it.

After gaining membership in the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, the U of S invited fellow CIRA members Lakeland and Olds College to the rodeo.

Once both schools confirmed their attendance, Clemens and Dutchak set a date for the inaugural event.

The first annual U of S rodeo will take place Sept. 22 at the OK Corral in Martensville, Sask.

The rodeo will include ten events highlighted by the bull riding, barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, and breakaway roping. The U of S club is expected to have a competitor in every event and field approximately 20 competitors in all.

A rodeo of this scale is currently unheard of at the university level in Canada, but the events have gained some following in smaller colleges like Vermillion and Olds. Clemens hopes her club can be an example for other Canadian universities to follow.

“We would love to see college rodeo in Canada get to be what it is in the States. Canada is currently behind the States in the rodeo and equine industries,” Clemens, who is in her third year of animal science, said. “It just takes people that are passionate to get everything there, and this is what we are passionate about.”

In the past, the U of S campus had barns and an arena for holding and riding animals, but these type of facilities are no longer available.

“To find somewhere that we can all practice together is next to impossible, so what we want is a facility on campus where we can keep our horses, practice and make it a little bit more convenient,” Dutchak said.

The women are already talking about the possibility of a second rodeo in the new year, and plan to take the team to other school hosted rodeos later this fall.

Source: Canadian University Press

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