You’d be forgiven for thinking that rodeo season is over for the winter. For the Northern Lights College Rodeo Team, their season is still just getting started.
For the first time this year, the team has full, weekly use of the facilities at the Moore Ranch for practice. After two months outside, they moved into the Moore’s indoor facility this week with the turn of the weather. Though there’s no heat, there is shelter from the wind, and the team is poised to practice there three days a week, Tuesday to Thursday, through to the Christmas break.
On Monday and Friday nights, the team has use of the Lakota Agriplex, giving it a warm practice session to bookend the week.
“It’s nice to have all the coaching, this many practice nights, and be hands on with the coaches. It’s a lot better now than being outside,” said Grade 12 student Tucker Esau, who is a member of both High School Rodeo and the NLC team as a dual-credit student.
The team has different practices each day. Wednesdays the team works on calf roping, coached by former Canadian rodeo champ Clayton Moore. Specified practices like this are not only rare for these athletes, but also for many in the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
“We didn’t have practices like this last year so it’s a big change. This year since we’re down here at the ranch it’s a bit better, we’re by ourselves, we can do whatever we want, and get as much time in as we want,” said Cole Harris, who is in his second year with the team.
Cole’s brother Justin Harris joined him from the lower mainland this season, making the move to Dawson Creek.
“I’m really enjoying it. It’s nice to get to practice every week and get a head start on competitions,” Justin said.
Though there have been no college rodeo competitions this fall, the CIRA is hopeful there will be competitions early in the new year and expecting imminent news on the prospect of a January start.
“I’m excited for competitions to start, knowing that there are potential ones are coming up and I feel like we’re all going to be ready after all these practices in the winter,” said Tyler Bondaroff, who is also in her second year with the team after being a dual-credit student last year.
There’s no denying the athletes will have a cold winter of practices ahead of them, but they aren’t letting that dampen their enthusiasm.
“You just have to push through the cold, once you get going it’s not that bad anyway,” said Bondaroff.