Gina Cope ropes for the AHS rodeo team. Photo contributed
Not every high school has a rodeo team, but Atascadero High not only supports a team each year, with Ms. George as their adviser, but this year’s team is performing exceptionally well and is headed to a strong finish in their District. That could qualify those athletes for a spot in the state and even national finals.
AHS’s rodeo team competes in the California High School Rodeo Association (CHSRA) District 7. This year’s team consists of the following students in specific events: Gina Cope, Goat Tying, Breakaway Roping, and Team Roping; Hayden Taylor, Cutting, Tiedown, and Team Roping; Garrett Oliveira, Bull Riding; Chelsea Rogell, Pole Bending, Goat Tying, and Barn Racing; Jaycee Haynes, Team Roping.
Early in February, the team competed locally at the CHSRA - D7 Madonna Inn Rodeo, after which Cope ended up in fourth place for Goat Tying and sixth place in Breakaway Roping. On top is Taylor, who is first place so far in Boy’s Cutting and 5th in Tie Down. There are several competitions ahead: Challenge of Champions in Plymouth (March 15-17); and the D7 King City Rodeo (March 9-10).
Many people don’t even know the sport of high school rodeo exists. CHSRA competitions are held for high school rodeo athletes across several states, ending the season with state finals, and then those winners compete at a national finals rodeo. The top five of each event in their division qualify for CHSRA state finals. The top three in the state qualify for nationals. Many of the student athletes performing at that level of excellence go on to become professional rodeo athletes. There are many different events for not only high schoolers, but also a junior high division.
According to the team’s advisor, Ms. George, who is also a rodeo athlete herself, “The motto of District 7 CHSRA is ‘All for one and one for all.’ This certainly rings true of these student athletes. It’s not only about the competition; it’s about making lifelong friendships. Most of them have been competing together, and against one another, since they were very young, and will most likely continue to do so in college and afterwards.”
Cope agrees. She stated that performing in high school rodeo is “a great way to make friends and build leadership skills.”
Rodeo athletes meet the same academic and attendance requirements as any other high school athletes. After participating in eight regular high school rodeos at the District level, and the opportunity to perform in post season finals at the state and national levels, participants receive an athletic letter from AHS at the annual awards banquet in May. In addition, rodeo athletes benefit from many scholarship opportunities. CHSRA also provides students scholarship opportunities, as well as individual colleges providing scholarships for rodeo athletes to join their own rodeo teams. The of AHS and Atascadero Unified School District administrations have a long tradition of supporting the high school rodeo team.