Makayla Willows and Cayden Nickel of the Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP) Royals Rodeo team finished as the top competitors at the Canadian Collegiate Rodeo Association (CCRA) Finals May 19-21 in Brooks.
“Makayla and Cayden had an outstanding weekend,” says Trina Carroll, RDP Royals Program Lead. “They put in the work and were rewarded. I want to send a huge shoutout to all competitors and the CCRA Board of Directors, including Jamie Kuzma, who was our main contact at the CCRA.”
Buck Lake’s Willows earned the prestigious honour of 2023 CCRA Cowgirl of the Year by accumulating the most points among female competitors at the Silver Sage Community Corral over the weekend. “I am thankful for the support from the RDP Royals Rodeo team, our wonderful coaches, and my family,” says Willows, who is graduating with an RDP Social Work Diploma in June.
“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have been able to compete in the CCRA Finals. After working hard throughout the season, it was rewarding to complete my last year in College Rodeo as the Heeling Season Leader along with qualifying for the finals in Barrel Racing, Breakaway Roping and Pole Bending.”
As heeler in Team Roping, Willows consistently demonstrated her expertise in roping steers by their hind feet after the header – who was Nickel - roped the front of the steer.
“For being recognized as the High Point Cowgirl of the Year alongside my Team Roping partner Cayden, we were each awarded a beautiful saddle and buckle as Cowgirl and Cowboy of the Year,” adds Willows.
“It is a very humbling honor and an amazing way to end my final College Rodeo experience.”
Nickel, who is from Evansburg, was named the CCRA Cowboy of the Year and CCRA Tie Down Roping Champion. He just completed his first year of a Bachelor of Kinesiology and Sport Studies Degree at RDP.
“It was such an awesome experience,” says Nickel about competing in the CCRA Finals. “We had a lot of fun and I can’t wait for next year.”
In addition to Willows and Nickel placing first overall in the CCRA, they made Red Deer Polytechnic history.
“In 10 years of competing in the CCRA Finals, this is the first time that RDP students have achieved the High Point Award in both the Cowboy and Cowgirl categories,” explains Carroll. “We are so proud of Makayla and Cayden.”
The next CCRA season will begin in Fall 2023.