SHERIDAN — In the field of high school sports, rodeo isn’t the easiest to get a college scholarship for, but Kylee Cahoy has it figured out.
She’s been rodeoing since she was 3 years old, and she’s been on a horse for longer than that. Now a senior in high school, she practices four to five hours a night as a member of the Sheridan High School team. Thursday, she signed her national letter of intent to rodeo at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, a college in Alva, Okla., near the state’s northern border with Kansas.
“I’ve been riding horses since I was 2 years old,” Cahoy said. “I guess it’s kind of a family-based sport, it helps because the whole family does it. When I started high school rodeo, I decided I wanted to college rodeo because high school just prepares you for it.”
Out of her three events — breakaway roping, team roping and barrel racing — Cahoy says barrel racing is her favorite. She just got a new horse, Romeo, and he “makes it fun,” she said.
Through five rodeos this season, she’s the fourth-ranked barrel racer in Wyoming High School Rodeo Association state standings, trailing the first-place rider from Jackson by 12 points. Her favorite and best event, she’s had second and third place barrel racing finishes three different times this spring, at rodeos in Rock Springs and Laramie.
The rodeo team is not affiliated with the high school and does not technically have a coach. Parents and mentors help the kids along the way.
Every sport has its obstacles when it comes to reaching the next level, but for rodeo those challenges are unique, especially in Sheridan.
“That’s kind of what you’re looking for, that scholarship with high school rodeo,” Kylee’s mom Lorie Cahoy said. “Last year at the high school finals she had a chance to talk to rodeo coaches from all over the country.
“It was pretty cool to get to do that all in one place, it will help a lot as an individual sport it’s an expensive event compared to anything else.”
In addition to her parents, Lorie and Dale, Cahoy’s been helped by family friend and SHS counselor Brenda White who takes Cahoy to rodeos in South Dakota, Gillette and Billings where there are indoor arenas out of the Wyoming winter.
“It’s just good to have parents like these guys to make sure she has a place to go and animals to practice on,” White said. “And we have fun when we’re doing it. That’s the cool part.”
Right now, they’re into the heart of the high school season, where the schedule waits to make sure that the weather is going to cooperate before coming up to the outdoor arenas in the northern part of the state. The high school team will compete in Buffalo May 25 and in Sheridan May 26-27.
The state finals are the weekend after the Sheridan rodeo, and the National Finals will be held July 14-20 in Rock Springs. Reaching the HSNF is Cahoy’s goal for her senior season. In the fall, she plans to study biology and hopes to eventually enter a radiology program in Oklahoma. On the rodeo team she’ll be coached by bulldogger and six-time NFR qualifier Stockton Graves.
“No snow,” she laughed when prompted as to why she chose the school. “Rodeo is bigger there,” she continued. “There are more places, chances to go and compete. There’s no off season for rodeo, we go all year round.”