By Wrangler Network contributor Miss Rodeo America
Hey y’all! My name is Kaitlyn Gill and I am your Miss Rodeo Virginia 2015. I am the 21 year old daughter of Curt and Tracy Gill of Rhoadesville, VA. I graduated from Hollins University in December 2014 with my Bachelor’s Degree in Business and I recently received my property and casualty insurance license. In my spare time I enjoy helping out on my families beef cattle farm, working to expand my own small herd, coaching my sister and her horse in her 4-H endeavors, and snow skiing.
I hit the ground running as Miss Rodeo Virginia with one of my first appearances at the National Western Stock Show. A group of us girls had the opportunity to head up to Steamboat for the Cowboy Downhill for a few days during the stock show, it was an absolute blast to compete in the downhill (check out my crash picture!). Some of us are already planning our trip out next year!
Next, it was my turn to welcome some girls to my beautiful state. Miss Rodeo Nebraska, Miss Rodeo Illinois, Miss Rodeo Wyoming and Miss Rodeo New York were able to come to VA for the Cherry Blossom Parade which takes place in Washington, D.C. During their stay we were able to tour the city and ride in the parade. Having the opportunity to ride down the streets of D.C. in a world famous parade was absolutely amazing.
This past year I have often come back to quote “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” This quote has defined my time as Miss Rodeo Virginia. This point really hit home with me when I was at NEBRASKAland Days. I knew the trip would be one to remember when I by complete chance I had a flight from Denver to North Platte with Miss Rodeo Washington (Katherine Merck), Miss Rodeo America (Lauren Heaton) and none other than the second Miss Rodeo America, Dallas Hunt George! Upon landing we went straight to the arena where the horsemanship portion of the Miss Rodeo Nebraska pageant was going on. That is where I first met a group of little girls, the ‘Little Cowgirls.’ These girls were so ecstatic that there were so many queens there, I signed autographs and chatted with them for over 30 minutes. At the time I didn’t realize it, but it was a defining moment of my time as Miss Rodeo Virginia. Those are the moments you look back on and realize what it means to be a rodeo queen and how much I absolutely love this journey I am on.
This point hit home once again when I was out at Cheyenne Frontier Days. While the contestants and queens were signing autographs after one of the performances, I met a little girl with beaming eyes who could barely even get the words out of her mouth “will you please sign me one.” As I spoke with her she told me how she had been keeping up with me all year and I was her ‘favorite.’ She had never imagined I would have been there, in Cheyenne, sitting right in front of her. Realizing that you are a role model to people all over the country is the most humbling and gratifying experience one can have.
Being a rodeo queen I have been reminded time and time again of my passion to help others. From visiting schools to nursing homes I have had the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and educate them on our great sport. The longer I am on this journey the more I am able to see the whole picture, it’s about the next generation of contestants, queens and fans. And, after the year I have had, I am confident in the future of the Professional Sport of Rodeo. People say that being a rodeo queen is a once in a lifetime experience, and it is just that. I look forward to my next two months as Miss Rodeo Virginia and could never thank those who have supported me enough.