Skip to content

NLC rodeo team sending all three athletes to finals in first year

In their first year of competition, Northern Lights College is sending all three of their current rodeo athletes to the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Finals that runs Thursday to Saturday in Brooks, Alberta.
1
Todd Bondaroff, associate vice president of student services and community relations at NLC; athlete Sierra Jones; and Christie Johnson, the team’s Sport Development Manager at Tuesday's celebration and sendoff for the team in Dawson Creek.

In their first year of competition, Northern Lights College is sending all three of their current rodeo athletes to the Canadian Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Finals that runs Thursday to Saturday in Brooks, Alberta.

The team’s lone male, Denton Spiers, is heading into the finals the season leader in bull riding, number one in the association. Fallyn Mills qualified for breakaway roping (third) and goat tying (fourth), while Sierra Jones earned a spot in goat tying with an eighth place finish. (The team did have a few other athletes on the roster at the beginning of the season, but they are no longer on the roster).

“It’s been a year of lots of firsts, and lots of learning. Most importantly, it’s been about us providing the pathway to get our students successful with their education and down the road so they can be successful in the rodeo arena,” said Todd Bondaroff, associate vice president of student services and community relations at NLC.

It’s a successful year for the first year program, and NLC’s first foray into athletics.

“For our first kick at this, we can’t have asked for three better student athletes, they worked hard all season. They made great use of our practice facilities in the region, our community really came behind to support them, we’ve had great support in all the communities in our region, where we’ve been practicing and competing. I think they’re ready to go, I think they’re going to be successful, and we wish them all the best,” explained Bondaroff.

“It’s not only that we have three athletes going to the finals, it’s that we have three athletes going strong into the finals,” said Christie Johnson, the team’s Sport Development Manager.

For the athletes themselves, it’s been a bit of a learning curve. Jones was at the team’s celebration held in Dawson Creek on Tuesday and spoke to her time in the program.

“College is a lot more serious than high school,” admits Jones, who is from Dawson Creek, and studies applied business technology at the college. “You have to be at school, and make it work to get to practice, and be top of your game in the rodeo, and have a job so you can afford [it].”

Formal practice is three days a week for Jones, but she has to ride pretty much every day to keep her horses in shape.

“As a student, it’s really hard, like you’ve got to jam it all in, but in the end, it’s worth it.”

The level of competition is tough.

“It is a little bit tougher than high school and you do have to really be religious about practicing,” she notes.

She’s “really excited” for the finals to compete in goat tying, but admits she had some tough luck in barrel racing and didn’t qualify for that.

“That’s how it goes. You’ve got to look above that and not let that tear you down, like if you have a bad run, you’ve got to set that aside and really just focus on the next one, because you’re going to ruin your whole day. Rodeo you have to have short term memory.”

Jones is happy to have the opportunity to do collegiate rodeo in Canada.

“It’s really cool to be able to do it right out of your hometown and get that experience.”

And it’s something NLC is working to continue growing. Next year, the plan is to host a collegiate rodeo in one of their communities, probably in the spring. With a full recruiting season ahead — a luxury they didn’t have when they announced the program last summer — work has already actively begun for next year’s team.

“I think people can see the end result of what has happened this year. I think a few of the people may’ve been a little bit shy to jump on board last year, not sure what it was going to hold for them, but now that they see that there’s actually an outcome of it and the team did get built, and the team was successful. We do have a lot of students reaching out to us already about the next year, so I think the future is pretty bright,” said Johnson.

“We’ve done a ton of work this past year, with organizing practice nights, developing a coaching staff to support our athletes, really figuring our way through Canadian Intercollegiate system. Engage Sport North, our partner, has been tremendous in supporting Northern Lights College and our athletes to be successful,” said Bondaroff.

“And we’ve heard loud and clear from our community that this is something they want to see and they want us to continue with our rodeo program and expand into other athletic opportunities.”

reporter@dcdn.ca

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks