Meet the Member Ashley Smith & Charles Daniels
Story by Heidi Geesen The 2022 Colorado Junior Rodeo Association Senior Girls Horse of the Year, has a story that is very unique. It is […]
story by Laurie Dineen
2018 Zach Dorenkamp Memorial Award Winner
Sara lives outside of Greeley, CO with her parents Jacy and Kim Dickens. Her upbringing in the rodeo and Christian communities has made her into the young woman she is today. “I have been around horses and rodeo my whole life. I have a photo of when I was 6 months old on a horse with my dad at his rodeo. The summer after I was born my dad and mom went to 60 rodeos while having full time jobs and a newborn.”
A CJRA member for seven years, Sara started as a Pee Wee, competed in the Little Britches, then focused on her events at CJRA in the JR and SR divisions and this summer finished as a graduating senior. As a Junior, Sara competed in Poles, Barrels, Breakaway and Team Roping.
“When I moved into the Senior division, I decided to only compete in roping events, which are my favorite events.” Throughout the 7 years of competition in all events, Sarah, rode only one horse which she calls Big John. “He is an awesome horse and has given me his all 100% of the time,” Sara said. This 16.5 hand horse lives up to his name in all aspects and he was voted Top Horse for 2017 and 2018 by CJRA members.
Wrapping up her CJRA year, Sara placed 8th in Breakaway, 10th in Ribbon Roping, 13th in Mixed Team Roping and was 17th in the All-Around Year End Standings. “I didn’t have the year or the Finals I had hoped for,” Sara exclaimed, “but I never gave up, never quit. I am thankful that I can grow from not only my wins, but my losses. I have learned that how I do as a competitor does not define me as a person, which is important to me.”
Receiving the Zach Dorenkamp Memorial Award was a real honor for Sara, who was not expecting anything like this at all. “This year I had a cool opportunity to lead the worship at church services at the CJRA rodeos. The Lord is a huge part of who I am, and it was a great honor to be able serve Him in this manner. I thank Trent and Lindy Sharon for giving me the opportunity,” Sara shared. “The Sharon family has supported me the past two years and has encouraged me to always speak the truth and share the word of the Lord.” Even though Sara did not have the best year competing in the rodeo arena, she made up for with her impact she had on others.
Sara’s mentors include her parents, which are her coaches, #1 fans and main support system, and the Lay Family (Clint, Robin, Graycee and Olivia). “The Lays’ have become awesome friends, and Clint has helped me with my roping, providing encouragement and honesty with his constructive criticism. I also look up to Graycee because of her poise and humility. She competes at her best and is a humble winner and gracious looser. It has been great to compete with both her and her sister.”
This year, Sara has made a point to read more and two books stood out that have had a positive impact on her. ‘God Wants You to Win’ by Jeff Copenhaver and ‘The Cowboy Call’ by Dale Hirschman. “These books have been awesome for providing spiritual encouragement and have helped me stay focused and maintain my character in and out of the rodeo arena – win or lose,” said Sara.
Being a member of the CJRA has been a great experience for Sara, both in how their rodeos are structured and in how they value the kids and their families. “Everyone involved is supportive of all the members, from the Crisis Fund for contestants and their families, to creating events that help the kids improve and get ready for moving up to the next age division. At every rodeo, you see kids and parents help and support each other. I also like the fact they offer the Parent/Child Team Roping. It was a cool opportunity and fun to be able to rope with my Dad.”
Sara graduated from Resurrection Christian School and will be attending college at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ this fall, studying Secondary Mathematics Education. “I want to teach math to middle school and high school kids,” she said, “I used to hate math until 6th grade when my teacher noticed that I struggled with the subject. With her continual encouragement and support, I soon realized I could be good at math. She made me see that teachers play a big part in rising up young leaders. Teaching is all about seeing the good in all kids, pushing them to reach their potential, and influencing them to make a difference. One day, I hope to be able to impact my students like my teachers have impacted me.”
As for taking rodeo to the next level, Sara decided not to rodeo until she graduates from college. “I want to get out of college without debt and in 3 years. Rodeo is in my heart, and I know I will be able to pick it back up afterwards.”
Sara is most deserving of her award from the CJRA by exhibiting all the necessary qualities and more. We are excited for her future and are glad to have been part of her past.
**Zach Dorenkamp was a CJRA member who lost his life in a tragic auto accident. To continue to honor his memory each year, a CJRA member is selected based on the following criteria: character in and out of the rodeo arena, competitiveness, compassion for others, and general leadership qualities- all of which Zach embodied during his brief, yet remarkable life. This year’s award winner, Sara Dickens, exhibited all these traits along with her passion for life and service, and was presented with a special keepsake; a bible with a custom leather cover.
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