NHSFR Athlete Spotlight: Alex Odle

NHSFR Athlete Spotlight: Alex Odle

July 22, 2016

Nashville, TN

This story has been updated to reflect the final results of the NHSFR. 

At her very last National High School Finals Rodeo, 18-year-old Alex Odle is killing it! She and her horse Archie took the top spot on Wednesday's barrel racing performance with a run of 17.293 seconds. She ranked first in the barrel average with an overall time of 51.681. She was also in the third spot for All Around Cowgirl with a score of 840. 

Odle's success may not come as a surprise to some – this is the high-school graduate's fourth time competing in the NHSFR, and she recently placed 5th in pole bending at the IFY Shawnee Youth Rodeo. 

Yet, arriving in Gillette, Wyoming, Odle didn't know what to expect. She said that while she had a good run in Shawnee, she and Archie had been in a slump in the months preceding the event.

"When we got here I wasn’t sure what to expect," Odle said. "He was either going to have a really good run or a really bad one. I was proud of the turn he made! It was such a fast run I didn’t think he’d make that sharp turn, but he did."

Odle grew up on a farm and ranch in Brush, Colorado, a sleepy town Northeast of Denver, right along Colorado's State Highway 71. Brush is made up of mainly farmers and retirees, with a population of 5,463.

While Alex is the only member of the Odle clan who's competed in the saddle, rodeo and agriculture have positioned themselves front and center within the lives of her entire family. When Odle decided in 2nd grade that Western sports was something she was interested in, the Odles threw themselves into the new sport, treating rodeo like an added member of the family. Alex's mother, Amber Odle, has been Colorado's Rodeo Director for three years now. 

"It was 100% support from everyone," Odle said. "It was something new that we were trying to do, but it turned into a lifestyle."

The rodeo lifestyle is one that has brought Odle success, but also kept her busy. With an FFA and 4H membership on top of her rodeo career, she hardly has time to do anything else.

Yet according to the burgeoning barrel racer, there's nothing else she'd rather be doing. While she used to play softball – her sister still plays and her father coaches – she devotes all her spare time to rodeo instead, because Odle feels that Colorado's rodeo community is something really special.  

"There’s not a kid here from Colorado I don’t know," Odle said. "I think rodeo is something that’s not a selfish sport, we’re all here to help each other out."

Now that the end of her NHSFR career is nearing, Odle looks back on her weeks spent in Gillette as “without a doubt, the best week of the summer.” 

For Odle, the NHSFR is a time to make her family proud and a time to have fun with her friends and teammates. She takes pride in the Colorado team’s recent first place victory in the campground-wide volleyball tournament. It’s a time for her grandparents to watch from their television sets as she and Archie make their way to the top of the barrel racing average. 

Rodeo is about family for Odle, but it’s always been about having fun too. In fact, Odle said that one of the greatest challenges she faced in rodeo was transitioning into the competitive nature of the sport. 

She had to come to terms with the fact that hard work and skill needed to accompany the initial fun and excitement of Western sports. Eventually, she sent her “good ole horse,” whom her parents had saved from a dog food factory, to the Texas coast, where the horse could spend its last few years helping various kids find their footing in the sport. 

Then Odle found Archie, and ever since riding competitively has become her life. She plans to ride at South Plains College in Texas and then hopefully become a professional rodeo competitor. Yet the “fun” aspect of rodeo has never left Odle’s mind. 

“My dad always tells me, ‘It’s a big deal, but don’t make it a big deal,” Odle said. “‘Just make your mark, and have fun.’”  

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