“There is no future in giving up.”
That was the message of strength, courage and determination presented to college rodeo cowboys and cowgirls at the banquet of the K-State Rodeo Club in Manhattan.
Amberley Snyder is a barrel racer who has fought her way back from tragedy inspiring all of America to “Get Back on the Horse.”
Telling her inspirational story while competing in rodeos across the United States, Snyder let the challenges she faced refine her, not define her.
Snyder was voted the fan exemption contestant at the world’s richest one day rodeo RFD-TV’s The American in Dallas.
Competing with the best in the world, Snyder received a standing ovation from 40,000 spectators winning the hearts of America for turning tragedy into triumph.
Snyder had major positive momentum in life after qualifying for the 2009 National High School Rodeo Finals in pole bending, winning the National Little Britches Rodeo Association all-around cowgirl title and being elected Utah FFA state president.
“Everything was going great,” Snyder told K-State Rodeo Club members, alumni and friends at the banquet.
Those dreams were temporarily dashed on January 10, 2010. Snyder was driving to the Denver Stock Show and Rodeo, looked down at a map, faded into the other lane, overcorrected and rolled her pickup at 75 miles-per-hour.
Not wearing a seat belt, Snyder was ejected, and slammed into a fence post that broke her back. Following five hours of emergency surgery, the doctor’s prognosis was Snyder would never regain use or feeling below her waist.
During one of Snyder’s many physical therapy sessions, a therapist asked Snyder for three goals. She answered: “Walk, ride, and rodeo.”
Remarkably, only 18 months after the accident, Snyder was back on her horse. Setting many goals, she discovered the ladder on her horse trailer provided a means for pulling herself up on her horse.
With determination, Snyder again competed in college and professional rodeos. Graduating in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education, she’s pursuing a master’s in counseling.
According to Snyder, the 2009 accident taught her one most important lesson and her overarching message. “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
K-State Animal Sciences & Industry (AS&I) Head Ken Odde is retiring from that position. He was recognized during the banquet for his leadership role in taking K-State rodeo to a new level.
“Ken Odde has established a strong relationship between his department and the K-State Rodeo Club and Team,” said Clarke Jackman, Baldwin City, chairman of the K-State Rodeo Advisory Council.
“Some monumental steps in the rodeo program’s recent advancement would not have been possible without Ken’s support and guidance,” Jackman insisted.
During Odde’s leadership, the department worked with the club and advisory council to bring the rodeo team practice facilities and horse housing on-campus.
Rodeo student athletes now keep their horses in stalls and runs adjacent to Burtis Arena just north of Kimball Avenue. The team has regular practices at the facility.
Another of Odde’s major contributions to the program was hiring K-State’s first-ever full-time rodeo coach on the AS&I staff. Casy Winn just completed his second school year as rodeo coach and equine instructor.
“I am proud of the job Coach Winn has done in this position,” said Odde, who was named AS&I head in early 2007.
The K-State Rodeo Club had a successful year under the leadership of President Casey Adams, who graduated last month with a degree in finance.
Among the major accomplishments this year were hosting one of the most highly-attended college rodeos in the country; raising funds for the club and team through events including a fall team roping, Iron Woman competition, ranch rodeo, bull riding clinic, a barrel race; and funding another row of stalls at Burtis Arena.
Club and team members of the year were recognized. Male club member of the year is Blade Winter, who served as stock co-chair, while the top female club member is Brooke Wallace, the 2016 Miss Rodeo K-State.
Male team member of the year is junior Dixon Winn, who finished 14th in the Central Plains Region in bull riding and also competed in team roping, calf roping and steer wrestling.
Kinzie Alexander, freshman who competed in breakaway roping and team roping at the college rodeos, was the female team member of the year.
The 2017-18 K-State Rodeo Executive Board will be headed by President Milan Hunter, junior from Buffalo Creek, Colorado.
Other new board members are Kinzie Alexander, president-elect; Reiny Ostrander, vice president; Bailey Jeffries, secretary; Blade Winter, treasurer; Emily Ebert, Miss Rodeo K-State; Kealey Dwyer, social chair; Cassidy Hill, advertising chair; Sponsorship Chair Jacob Grinstead, sponsorship chair; and Kalee Krier, Ag Council representative.
Derek Neal and J.T. Gehling are facilities co-chairs, while Dixon Winn and Payton Manley are stock co-chairs. Coach Casy Winn is club sponsor.