story by Lindsay Humphrey “Every bull I’ve gotten on my dad has pulled my rope for me,” said Kyle Campbell. “I like him being behind […]
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Meet the Member: LaKota Melgoza
By Lindsey Whelchel
“My mom gave me as Shetland pony for my 5th birthday, and it was downhill from there,” jokes Kansas High School Rodeo Cowgirl, LaKota Melgoza of her early start with horses.
From the pony, LaKota moved up the ranks of the horse industry to her eighth grade year when some friends who were going to a rodeo bible camp, took her along.
Then she was introduced to the sport of goat tying.
“Ever since then I just couldn’t get enough of it, so I joined Kansas High School Rodeo,” LaKota explains. Every year since at state LaKota has made the short go in the goat tying, and her goal for her senior year, is to do it again and hopefully go on to the National High School Finals Rodeo.
By her sophomore year, LaKota knew rodeo wasn’t just a hobby, it was what she wanted to do, so she upgraded her trailer and added more rodeoing to her KHSRA schedule with the National Little Britches and KPRA barrel racing and breakaway roping.
To focus on rodeo, LaKota transferred to Manhattan High School Virtual Academy.
“They’re always so willing and helpful,” she says of the school and adds, “lots of the high school rodeo kids do Manhattan High School, because it allows us time to be gone, and it allows us to do homework when we can and attend classes.”
The flexibility is certainly a good thing for this busy cowgirl. Rodeo has been a great teacher of dedication and time management for LaKota.
“It’s taught me a lot of responsibility. I have a part-time job at a flower shop, The Flower Cottage in Quinter, Kansas. I work during the days at the Gove Country Kitchen in Gove, Kansas. When I go home I ride my horses to practice, so I am very busy,” LaKota describes.
In addition to responsibility, rodeo has brought a lot of friendships into LaKota’s life.
“Through rodeo I have lots of friends from all over. You just meet somebody, and by the end of the day you’re like best friends. You might see each other a year later, and it’s never like you stopped talking, you pick up your conversations right there. It’s just really cool how you get to meet people from other places, and everybody is willing to help you. There’s no bad sportsmanship or anything, and everybody is there cheering on every kid.”
LaKota cites the family atmosphere as being one of her favorite parts, especially the support she has received from her own family.
“Mom and I go on the road, and dad, he’s always making sure my trailer is up to date, my tires are good. He’s just a good sport all around too.”
LaKota’s dad Damian is a rancher, and her mom Camie works as a high school secretary. LaKota’s sister Desirae also works at a flower shop, and it’s the Melgoza girls’ dream to one day open their own flower shop. “All three of us girls are going to own a flower shop eventually, so mom definitely gave us the creative gene. We love to decorate and create things and make cute western décor,” LaKota says.
Before then, LaKota will be attending college on a rodeo scholarship in Texas in the fall to study business management, then she’ll come home to pursue her dreams as a business owner. And no doubt, rodeo won’t ever be far away.