GREENFIELD — Ever since she could get on a horse, Grace Day was hooked.
Day, now 11, is starting to compete in rodeos on her own. She’s had the experience of displaying the American flag from a horse several times, now is the time she’s taking it to the next level, starting out with barrel racing.
Others are taking notice of Day. Recently, she was named to a group that gives her an inside track to growth in her sport and has a young lady called the Rodeo Kids Ambassador Team.
“Rodeo is something I’ve really grown to love. When I was only two days home from the hospital I was already on a horse with dad,” said Day.
Rodeo kids, based in Iowa, can be likened somewhat to a club sports team that many student athletes in other sports compete on, however you have to be chosen for this group, and there are many more one-on-one opportunities members of the group receive along the way. This year, due to the pandemic, many of those opportunities will be delivered virtually via video conferencing.
“Eventually it can lead you to rodeo scholarships,” Day explained. “This involves everyone from competitors to influencers of the rodeo business from the ages of 4 to 19.”
Day, who is a sixth-grader at Nodaway Valley Middle School, was honored to be chosen as a Rodeo Kid ambassador. On the team are just four Iowa youth. The remainder of that list that is 21 youth deep includes youth from all over the United States, although Texas, with five kids, has the most on the list.
“Every month the group of us will meet on a Zoom call and with [an expert], like this month we get to meet with two-time College National Finals Rodeo goat tying qualifier Caylee Schmitt,” Day said.
Every one of Day’s brothers have competed in rodeos and went to college on rodeo scholarships. Chad was a national champion, qualifying for the finals five times. Cody team roped with Chad once at the national finals. Another brother, Jake, competed in rodeos through high school. Their father, Jack, also has extensive experience in the sport.
When she isn’t in the barn or arena working with her horses, Day is inside playing with her many toy horses and horse barns, because she has aspirations of becoming an architect. She hopes to configure horse barns and other facilities someday on a full scale just like she does on her dining room table or bedroom floor today.
“Both of the boys went to college on full-ride rodeo scholarships. Everybody says you can’t go to college on scholarships in rodeo but both of my boys did,” Jack said. “Grace loves horse barns and loves being able to get a horse from A to Z not in the easiest way but the best way. She wants to design barns and facilities to help do that. She’s on the right track. She’s only 11. She may not want to be an architect someday, but she’s thinking college and rodeo’s a good way to get a scholarship.”