Katie Schrock has been riding horses since she was 7. She's been involved with rodeo since she was in middle school, getting down in the dirt and working with animals.
“I’m the person behind the scenes working the cattle chute,” she said.
However, Schrock had never even considered entering a rodeo queen competition until this year’s Miss Rodeo Oregon competition.
Nevertheless, she walked away from the event on Aug. 22 as its winner.
“If you told me two years ago that I would go through Miss Rodeo Oregon, I would have said you were crazy,” she said Monday.
Schrock has been told she’s the first woman in at least two decades to win the title of Miss Rodeo Oregon without winning a previous title in a smaller rodeo.
There’s another reason the win is significant — as far as she can tell from the contest’s records, it’s the first time a sister of a past winner has won the event. Katie Schrock’s sister Nicole Schrock held the queen title in 2013.
Katie Schrock, who played basketball for Oregon State University, said seeing her sister traveling to rodeo events throughout the state and country inspired her to pursue the crown for herself after she stopped playing college basketball in March 2013.
Still, she said she struggled with the transition from basketball, a sport where she was part of a team, to preparing to compete as an individual.
“In basketball, you have an army with you,” she said.
Eventually, though, she found the team support she was looking for by forming a Facebook study group with other rodeo queen hopefuls throughout the country.
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“I was kind of on the fence about doing this for a year," she said. But forming the group helped her decide to give it a shot, "because I had a team again."
She added that her sister helped her study for the knowledge portions of the competition; she said that was a big reason why she was able to win the title.
"She's been great helping me through all this,” she said.
Katie Schrock, who is planning to finish her double major in agricultural business management and new media communications, said she views the title as a great resume-building opportunity, and the chance to work with various sponsors of the rodeo is a great networking opportunity.
“What I want to do is have a career in promoting agriculture and the western way of life through social media,” she said.
She said she already has lots of “crazy ideas” to bring to promoting the pageant, not to mention of activities to tackle with visiting rodeo queens, whom she will occasionally host through the year.
Kristi Schrock, Nicole and Katie’s mom, said it’s a little surreal to have both daughters win the Miss Rodeo Oregon title.
And she said she is excited to see what Katie, with her media education and experience, will bring to the role.
She added that she’s looking forward to traveling with Katie and supporting her as she appears at events across the country.
“This is an age you don’t normally get to spend a lot of time with your daughters, so it’s really special getting all that travel time with them,” she said.
Katie Schrock said she starts her reign as queen in January 2016.
“It should be a fun year," she said, "I’m really excited.”
Anthony Rimel can be reached at email@example.com, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.