Story by Ruth Nicolaus The Mid States East Rodeo Association member lived in Texas for five years before moving back to her parents’ farm in […]
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Meet the Member Nakona Anderson
story by Rayne Sherman
Twenty-four year old Nakona Anderson from Milan, Mich., grew up breaking and training horses with his brother, Jace, but when he was 11 he decided he wanted to ride bulls. Nakona’s interest in rodeo wasn’t a surprise because both his grandpa, Bob Emerson, and uncle, Slide Lynn, competed and his dad, Todd, had always been around rodeo, but never competed. Todd and Nakona built a bucking barrel in their backyard and Nakona started riding at local practice pens including Shiloh Walden’s. “Shiloh used to shoe our horses and told me when I was ready to get on bulls to come over to his place. He has helped me tremendously, especially in my early years of riding between giving me advice and stock to get on,” stated Nakona. When he was 13, Nakona began entering open rodeos close to home. He joined both the Michigan High School Rodeo Association and the Mid States Rodeo Association (MSRA) during his junior year of high school. Nakona qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo in 2008 and 2009 and qualified for the Mid States Finals Rodeo (MSFR) in 2009. Nakona also competed in the Professional Championship Bull Riders, qualified for the association’s finals, and was named the 2010 Rookie Bull Rider of the Year.
Nakona started his rodeo career riding bulls, but has now switched to bareback riding. “As a kid I liked watching the NFR bareback horses on TV and wanted to try bareback riding. I rode bulls for so long this is new, fun, and exciting and I like it better than bull riding. I’ll still ride bulls here and there, but I’m focusing on bareback riding and learning to do it properly,” said Nakona. Dedication to his new event is paying off because he qualified for the MSFR last year and is currently sitting fourth in the 2015 MSRA standings.
Nakona first heard about the MSRA from Shane Engstrom, owner of Flying Star Rodeo Company, when he was riding bulls. He attended a clinic at Shane’s house put on by Chris Bastien and Ronnie Sowle and won an award there that paid for his first card in the MSRA. “Having Ronnie at that clinic was pretty cool for me because he had traveled with my grandpa and uncle and had always been a good family friend. We kept in touch until he passed away and he would give me guidance whenever I needed it,” said Nakona.
Outside of rodeo, Nakona is a manager at Rhino Linings of Michigan where he has worked for almost 10 years. He completed the farrier program at the Kentucky Horseshoeing School and shoes horses on the side. Nakona also helps his dad sell leather products he has hand-crafted and is learning the leatherworking trade so he can take over the business someday.
Nakona’s future goals include qualifying for the MSFR again this year and trying to qualify for the International Finals Rodeo (IFR). He and his traveling partners, Devin Suiter and Cody Walden also plan to compete at SEBRA events because the association is adding bareback and saddle bronc riding this season. Next year the three friends hope to begin competing in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. After his competition days are done, Nakona wants to purchase a home with land and own bucking horses.
“I’ve met a lot of good people through rodeo and most of my friends are around it. My biggest support system has always been through them. My family has been very supportive including my mom, Annamia Knierim, who doesn’t like to come watch, but cheers me on. My traveling partners, Cody and Devin, have a good vibe in the car and keep a good positive outlook on things which always helps,” stated Nakona. He and his girlfriend of one year, Paige Nicholson, met through Paige’s brother and Nakona’s traveling partner Cody. Paige grew up around rodeo and enjoys traveling with Nakona, Cody, and Devin.