Keaton Collett has spent her life at the rodeo.
The sport has taken Collett, 22, to a lot of places and given her a lot of experiences in her life thus far - and she brings this experience to the Northern Lights College Rodeo team.
After a successful career with the BC High School Rodeo Association, Collett has spent the last two seasons on the CIRA circuit, and ridden in local open and amateur rodeos in between.
Collett twice won the provincial championship for team roping heeler in high school (2012 and 2015), and was the Canadian Reserve Champion breakaway roper in 2012 as well. Last year, she was named Northern Light College's All Around Cowgirl for the 2019-20 season, and she competed in the Canadian Finals Breakaway Roping the day before the start of the 2019 Canadian Finals Rodeo. Collett has been rodeoing her whole life, and though she has competed in barrel racing plenty of times, its in the roping events of breakaway and team roping where her passion really lies. Unfortunately, Canada has been slow to adopt the event on the pro circuit, but last year the Canadian Finals Breakaway took place during the same week of the CFR, at the same location in Red Deer.
"Barrel racing is great and I love to do it, but you are only as good as your horse. I've always leaned more towards roping events, which take a lot of practice and hard work to compete at a high level," said Collett.
Collett qualified through competing in the last chance breakaway roping jackpot in Ponoka the night before the Canadian Breakaway Finals.
"It was definitely an emotional roller coaster trying to qualify, but it was an incredible experience to ride the runners and back into the box at the highest level breakaway has ever been in Canada," Collett said.
She only roped one of her two calves needed to qualify for the second day of competition, but feels great about the experience overall. It's her hope that breakaway roping will continue to break into the professional rodeo scene in Canada, much like it already has in the United States.
Unfortunately, her ability to compete in the Canadian Breakaway Finals, as well as the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Finals this year depends on what these rodeo associations decide to do in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. Collett lives in Beaverlodge, where she helps out with her family ranch. She attends NLC remotely, taking online courses to become an educational assistant. Prior to transferring to NLC, she attended Red Deer College remotely for a year and was a part of their rodeo team. Going into her third college rodeo season this fall, she is hoping to compete in a full season and make the finals in multiple events.
"It was very disheartening to not have been able to compete after working so hard to prepare, and the uncertainty of wether we will have a season come fall definitely plays on the ability to stay motivated. But even if we don't get to rodeo this season there will always be another," Collett said.
She is pleased to have landed on the NLC team and is enjoying getting to know her teammates and everything the program has to offer.
"NLC has modelled their rodeo program after the schools in the states which provide big scholarships, great coaches, and unlimited practice opportunities that have drawn Canadian students south of the border for years," she said.
"NLC is the first school in Canada to offer these types of scholarships and to recognize their rodeo team as a varsity team. I am honoured to have the opportunity to represent a program that promotes the future of rodeo in Canada."