Utah State University has many club sports that students can be involved in. One of the more unique options offered to students is the chance to get involved with the USU Rodeo Team.
The rodeo team competes to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo that is held each summer. USU’s rodeo team has a variety of students who spend the entire year practicing and competing for this event.
Kacey Quarnberg, a senior majoring in equine science, has been involved with rodeo her entire life.
“My grandpa used to be a rodeo announcer and he did rodeo,” Quarnberg said. “Then my uncles, aunts, dad, mom, and sisters all rodeoed back in the day. It’s a family tradition that has been passed down. You could say I have rodeo running deep in my heritage.”
Quarnberg has been on the USU Rodeo Team for the past two years, but has spent four years as a part of the National Collegiate Rodeo Association. She previously competed during her time at Snow College. Quarnberg currently competes as a barrel racer.
Quarnberg loves the rodeo community because she feels like the people are her family.
“You get to meet so many new friends from all over. You get to be pretty close and help each other out,” she said. “Even though you are competing against each other, we still cheer for each other.”
Aleigh Aurin has spent the past five years competing for the USU Rodeo Team. Aurin grew up on the back of a horse and began participating in rodeo during high school. She participates in barrel racing, breakaway and team roping.
Aurin said the biggest challenge of rodeo would be the financial obligation and the amount of travel.
“For the most part, we pay our own way and we are lucky enough to have tons of support from the community that helps make it happen,” Aurin said. “When we travel, we don’t get a day to relax or acclimate like some teams. We drive there, are up late, get up early to compete again, rodeo all day and if we are lucky we make it back to the finals Saturday night.”
Aurin enjoys rodeo because of the excitement she feels every time she practices or competes.
“It takes practice, commitment and hard work. You get to have a bond like no other with a 1,200-pound animal that has a mind of its own. It’s dang cool. I get to compete along side my best friend and teammate, my horse,” Aurin said.
Wayson Foy is an Agricultural Education major, currently in his second semester at USU.
Foy’s parents were involved in both high school and college rodeo. When Foy asked if he could compete in high school, his parents told him it was all or nothing
“They told me that if I was going to do the sport of rodeo, it couldn’t just be a passing thing. I had to be committed. It’s a really expensive hobby. If you aren’t committed to it, you’re just shooting yourself in the foot,” Foy said.
Foy found his niche in the bulldogging event, and hasn’t looked back.
“It used to be that the fear of jumping off a horse and landing on something with horns was a challenge for me,” Foy said. “Now jumping off a horse is so second-nature to me, it kind of concerns me.”
Foy has discovered the USU Rodeo Team to be a place of friendships and healthy competition.
“I love competing, but I also love the feeling of pushing myself. Everyone else is out there to push themselves, make memories and have a good time,” Foy said. “They are there to help you up and put you back on your horse.”