RDP Rodeo Team could use permanent home
(Story Credit: Danny Rode/Red Deer Advocate)
Mention the RDP Rodeo team and you receive a lot of quizzical looks.
Despite the fact the program has been running for close to 10 years it takes a backseat to the highly recognized and competitive Kings and Queens programs who compete in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.
The program runs under the RDP Royals competitive sports program and was developed by Fitness and Sport Administration Officer Trina Carroll.
“The Royals is a program for students looking to compete but not part of the Kings and Queens,” explained Carroll. “We ran a number of teams from ladies soccer to volleyball competing in the community leagues.
“Then about 10 years ago I had a number of students come to me from campus rec who were involved in rodeo and we felt it would be good for them to be under our umbrella so they could be affiliated for us for competitions and insurance.”
Trina, who also runs the dance team, ran the program on her own for the first three years before Becky Wylie-Jardine stepped up and eventually became head coach.
I was raised in Rocky Mountain House and was always around horses so when I saw an email from Trina asking for some help with rodeo it caught my attention,” explained Becky, who worked 22 years with the RCMP before retiring and joining RDC as a sociology professor. In 2018 she took over as the head of Justice Studies.
“I contacted Trina and she did say it was real rodeo so I volunteered and it went from there.”
The RDP team competes in the Canadian College Rodeo Association (CCRA). They hold eight rodeos a year plus the Finals in Brooks.
The CCRA runs 10 events. Four — barrel racing, breakaway roping, pole bending and goat tying — for the ladies and six — bareback, saddle bronc, bull riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping and team roping — for men.
The number of competitors on the RDP team has fluctuated over the years from a low of three (the first year) reaching a high of 40.
“We had around 25 prior to Covid, then, of course, there were no rodeos for a couple of seasons which hurt,” said Carroll.
Last year the numbers were limited, although two of the ladies — Joelle Vig and Makayla Willows competes in the CCRA Finals where Vig placed second in barrel racing. Willows was fifth in breakaway roping and seventh in barrel racing.
One of the biggest problems facing the team is not having a permanent home.
That’s something they’re trying to fix, echoed both Carroll and Wylie-Jardine.
“Without a home it’s tough,” Becky stressed. “We’re having a meeting with the Westerner and hopefully that’s something that can be worked out. It would be a perfect fit for us, providing housing for our horses and a practice facility. They have everything we need.”
At present anyone involved in rough stock trains at Olds College.
“They have the animals and have been great and help a lot in coaching and providing the facility,” Becky added.
“We’ve been fortunate the last few years a facility just east of the city has allowed the ladies to practice, but it’s tough for them,” added Carroll. “Most cases they live close to Red Deer and can house their horses at home.
“However we’re fighting a battle and if we can get a permanent home it would make it a lot easier on everyone.”
A number of the athletes come from the high school rodeo circuit, although Carroll stresses they don’t turn anyone away.
“We don’t allow someone who is really green to compete until they have the training,” she said. “But if they want to be part of the team there’s always things to do such as opening the gates and cleaning. Those are things the athletes all do at the rodeos.”
The program has had success over the years led mainly by the ladies. Rayel Daines and Kelli McLeod came from well-known rodeo families and were among the elite barrel racers to compete for the team.
Over the years barrel racers on the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association have run clinics.
“That’s a real benefit for the ladies,” said Wylie-Jardine, who hopes the CCRA continues to grow.
“We’re not as big as the American one, but hopefully we continue to grow, receive more recognition and be used as a stepping stone for younger competitors.
“We’d love to be part of the ACAC one day … that’s our goal, but we need the support of the institutions of course.”
This year’s RDP team will hold their initial meeting Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Gary W Harris Canada Games Centre.
“We’ve put the word out but the more recognition the better,” concluded Wylie-Jardine.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at email@example.com