By: Julia Dondero
For the 18-year-old cowgirl from White, Georgia, this past year has been anything but easy in the arena. Between horse injuries and slumps in the arena, this past year has tested the young cowgirl, who is typically used to seeing her name atop of leaderboards.
Anyone who knows rodeo understands how challenging a slump can be to overcome, and how the thought of stepping away from the arena seems more and more pressing with each miss. However, the tide recently has changed for Maelee Wade. Through her unwavering perseverance and dedication to the event of breakaway roping, Wade found herself in a unique and victorious position when the dust settled at the World Champions Rodeo Alliance (WCRA) Rodeo Carolina, which concluded a month ago at the Tryon International Equestrian Center.
Entering Rodeo Carolina, Wade was seeded in the progressive round, however, she chose to take a swing at the qualifying round competition as well. After an unsuccessful attempt, Wade, and her supportive parents went back to the drawing board.
“This year was rough for me. I felt like I could never catch my breath, it’s certainly been a learning curve,” reflected Wade.
After much reflection, Wade backed into the progressive round box as a new version of herself.
“Starting Friday morning, I decided I was going to build a better Maelee. I just cleared my mind and roped. I decided to start over and not force anything, and this brought me peace,” explained Wade.
With that peace came prosperity. As well as the opportunity for the shot of a lifetime in the Triple Crown of Rodeo round. Entering the final round towards the top of the pack, allowing her to devise her game plan.
“After watching so many amazing competitors miss, I turned to my dad and asked ‘What should I do here?’ explained Wade, who stuck to her game plan of giving it her all, and stopped the clock in an impressive 2.45 seconds. This win– atop her main mount Otis’, who has also faced several injuries this year, was a major turning point for the young cowgirl’s year.
“I just kept going. I’ve always been one to rope my way out of it. This was the win I needed this season and it was truly a relief,” explained Wade, who also accredited her parents for their unwavering support in and out of the arena.
When the dust settled, Wade collected nearly $26,000 in earnings, making her one of Rodeo Carolina’s most prosperous victors. Growing up only three hours away from Mill Spring, North Carolina, Wade explained this victory was at the top of her goals list this season.
“This win was my favorite and largest so far. When I heard we were going to North Carolina, my heart was set on winning,” explained Wade, who now has her set at the Lazy E Arena. With the Stampede at the E nomination deadline of December 3 quickly approaching, Wade looks to enter the event seeded once again, with her eyes now set on a second Triple Crown of Rodeo victory.