High school rodeo is a place for young student athletes to become comfortable with competition and to get out and make new friends,” said 14-year-old Bailey Plaisier, commenting about the positives of being a member of the Manitoba High School Rodeo Association (MHSRA).
Plaisier was drawn to the world of cowboys from watching his father – an all-star in his eyes – working as a pickup man. Presently, the Grade 8 student at Oak Lake Community School, has 2-1/2 years under his belt, flipping steers and riding bulls, competing in the junior high division (introduced to Manitoba in 2004).
Out of his two events – chute dogging (similar to steer wrestling in the high school level) without the use of a horse and junior bull riding ( JBR) – the latter is his favourite.
“It’s just the rush and the challenge of the event that I love and it’s simply fun,” said Plaisier.
“Despite the open road covered to compete, I think the avenue of high school rodeo is great, as it allows me to visit and compete against friends who I don’t get to see any other time.”
Presently, the MHSRA has about 100 gifted athletes competing in the association that has been kicking up dust in small and large communities since 1995. The second half of the 2010-11 season will play out over April to June, with the provincial finals returning to Hamiota for the fourth straight year. The MHSRA in association with the host community of Virden will welcome a strong pool of talent to the Canadian finals in August.
Sharing the rodeo trail with his cousins, Kylie and Cady Anne Gompf, Plaisier is enjoying making new friends, new memories and new goals.
“In my final year of junior high eligibility, it would be grand to win the MHSRA Year- End and Finals Championships, plus the Canadians in junior bull riding,” said Plaisier, who tips his hat to his dad, Trevor Gompf, for being a true mentor in his eyes.
“My dad has taught me just about everything he knows and I would not be where I am in rodeo without him,” said Plaisier. “He definitely knows how to get the best out of me.”
Father like son, was also up for a challenge as a rodeo athlete. “My dad was a bull rider for 10 years and sometimes competed as a steer wrestler,” said Plaisier. “Following in his footsteps I also compete in the Manitoba Rodeo Cowboys Association (MRCA) as well as the Canadian Cowboys Association (CCA). I also have my sights set on attending some pro rodeos in the future.”
The young but confident rider finished second overall in junior bull riding at the MRCA Finals held at Westman Place in Brandon last October, and fourth at the CCA Finals in Regina. Other achievements include earning the 2009 MHSRA Finals Year-End JBR Championship.
Giving back to a sport he loves, Plaisier lends his time as a JBR event director, making sure fellow riders and his competitors are having as much fun as he does. His favourite rodeo idols – besides his dad – are Orin and Kane Larsen of Inglis. While Orin graduated from the MHSRA last year, he left a mark as the 2010 All-Around Cowboy from a Manitoba and Canadian Finals perspective. Today, while he is attending the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls on a rodeo scholarship, younger brother Kane is still busting broncs and bulls across the Prairies in various associations including the MHSRA. Although graduation is a ways off, Plaisier also has a goal of earning a scholarship to a college where he can continue on with rodeo.
Life on the circuit can be gruelling, but being involved has given Plaisier the attitude not to be a quitter. And that attitude shines through in his participation in school sports such as basketball, volleyball and track and field, or suiting up with the Hamiota Huskies bantam hockey team.
Plaisier also shares the workload with his father at home on the Bison Spirit Ranch, situated near Oak Lake.
– Darrell Nesbitt writes from Shoal Lake, Manitoba