I had an opportunity to swing by the rodeo practice for Casper College a couple of weeks in a row. Coach Johnson baited me and I was tempted to get my strings and tie with the girls. Lucky for them I was wearing capris. This week in my story telling series I’d like to introduce you to another member of the Casper College Rodeo team. She doesn’t board her horse at our place but we do have a connection. A couple of years ago, Josh was hired by a vet clinic in Douglas to build some corrals and additional buildings. The two young men that he hired to help just happened to be family members of this student athlete. Each time I reach out or sit down to tell another story, I am reminded that not only is Wyoming small but the rodeo world as a whole is never separated by more than a couple of degrees.

This week I’d like to introduce you to Miss Kaelie Oliver, a Junior at University of Wyoming attending on the Casper College campus. Kaelie is from Douglas, Wy and is seeking a degree in Social Work. While she is able to earn her degree through UW from Casper, it seems that rodeoing for UW would be a little awkward; only seeing teammates and coaches on the weekends. In addition to her social work degree class schedule, she is also enrolled at Casper College taking business courses to be eligible to rodeo for Casper College. She explains that earning a business degree from Casper will benefit her in her social work career just in case she ever does decide to go out on her own.

Kaelie ropes a few calves off her trusty steed, a big, thick sorrel horse who has a stop that makes a pair of skis to admire. She breakaway ropes and team ropes. When I asked why she didn’t run barrel she sort of laughed it off. She learned early, that her dad’s heel horse was never going to compete at that level so she stuck to what she is good at: Roping. She sports a long dark braid and red boots. She comes across as soft spoken yet determined. She is a self proclaimed “helper” and “fixer” and she assumed her future would revolve around a nursing career, just like her mother. After being accepted into the nursing program after the finish of her freshman year, she decided she wasn’t ready to jump into a specific program and that is when she started taking other courses. This is how she was lead to a path in social work. Her goal is to be a school guidance counselor. After a few more calves and a lot of chatter, she gets off and loosens the cinch. It appears that she is wise beyond her years.

Kaelie telling me stories at a recent college practice.

More conversation opens up the talk about what her more immediate future will hold; the summer! It is interesting when you get to a point in your life where you can think back on times and decisions that made the most impact. What I did with my summers during college are some of the most important times, I see that now. The difficulties of moving back home even after just one year in college can be pretty teachable moments. Navigating the fine line between adulthood and still driving your dad’s truck and trailer don’t necessarily go together. She and I share that commonality. Honoring your parents and, to an extent, their dreams for you, and possibly trying to determine what your dreams are for yourself, can be a bit tricky. While reflecting, we discuss the trials that, while in the middle of them seem like nothing more than growing up, but they are actually really shaping the person you will become. I was intrigued that even at a young age, she knows this. I am looking forward to more conversations with this young cowgirl.