Leading Team Manitoba to the 62nd Annual National High School Finals Rodeo, as Miss Manitoba, last summer was an awesome experience for Brittany Marshall of Minnedosa.
And while the “queen” experience was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity, Marshall has goals to make a return engagement to Gillette, Wyoming this summer as a competitor from a different standpoint.
Passionate about barrel racing, the Grade 12 student at Minnedosa Collegiate Institute, who sat in second place overall in the event after the first half of the 2010-11 season is hoping to continue to do well this spring and secure the right to turn and burn in Wyoming this July. It will take a top four finish.
Prior to joining the Manitoba High School Rodeo Association (MHSRA) four years ago, Marshall was involved in the Minnedosa Western Riders 4-H Club. Becoming interested in the sport of barrel racing, she felt high school rodeo was a great avenue for competition.
“My favourite event is barrel racing because it is fast paced, exciting and requires a large amount of dedication and practice,” said Marshall. “I also enjoy barrel racing because there is always a large amount of competition.”
Along with barrel racing, the 17-year-old daughter of Wim and Peggy van Meijl, also competes in pole bending.
No matter how hard the work is or the mileage needed to be covered, she truly believes the “cowboy lifestyle” is one of the best.
“As a rider you can learn so many of life’s lessons by competing in rodeo,” said Marshall. “Rodeo is a pastime that is most definitely worth travelling for.”
Marshall said she has become a more confident and experienced rider, and has made lifelong friendships, from being involved in high school rodeo. As well, being a member of the MHSRA has gained her another family.
“Without my parents’ help I wouldn’t be where I am today in terms of rodeo. They are my sole support and have done a lot for me over the years I have been competing,” said Marshall. “Along with high school rodeo, I also compete in the Manitoba Barrel Racing Association and have started in the Manitoba Rodeo Cowboys Association as well.”
Giving advice that is not only useful in the arena – but also in life – Marshall said her riding instructor, Michelle Davey of Brandon, has influenced her the most in her rodeo career.
“Along with my parents, Michelle is another person I would thank for getting me where I am today,” said Marshall. “The positives of being a member of the MHSRA are endless. One only has to look at the kids’ faces when they are competing and see that they are having the time of their lives, doing what they love.”
There have been many unforgettable experiences for Marshall, but the most special moment was when she won her first, first place in barrel racing at the 2010 Oak Lake Rodeo.
The kindness of Katelynn Baker of Newdale, a former queen herself, prompted Marshall to run for Miss Manitoba, as she wanted to be the helping hand to the new members, as Baker had been to her. Marshall also led Team Manitoba at the Canadian finals held in Manitoba for the first time in 2010 in Virden.
Marshall feels by keeping consistency, dedication, and most of all passion in one’s back pocket while competing, members will succeed in competition, as she has in barrel racing and pole bending.
Upon graduating from the MHSRA, this fall Marshall will join other alumni at the Brandon University. Here, she will study for a bachelor of education, to become an elementary school teacher.
– Darrell Nesbitt writes from Shoal Lake, Manitoba