In the community, Outdoors, Schools

For some Vale kids, it’s always rodeo time

As Vale got ready to kick off its 109th 4th of July Rodeo, two local teens were preparing to compete on the college rodeo scene after successful high school rodeo careers. 

Ava Collins and Callie Jo Arriola, 2024 Vale High School graduates, are heading for Treasure Valley Community College and Central Arizona College, respectively.

Collins, a back-to-back state wrestling champion, had considered a couple of four-year universities outside the area but ultimately decided on Treasure Valley Community College. Collins said she wanted to compete in collegiate rodeo for Drew Pearson, head coach of Treasure Valley Community College’s rodeo team. During Pearson’s tenure, the community college, in competition with four-year universities, has led the national standings for the last two seasons. Among other events, Collins competes in barrel racing. 

Arriola has competed in rodeos since she was 6 or 7 years old. She rode barrels as a child, but then gravitated toward her current specialty, team roping.
Over the years, she said she has met many “amazing people” who have been supportive. 

That supportive culture, Arriola said, is what sets the sport apart from others. 

“In rodeo, everyone supports everyone,” she said. “Because they’re all they’re trying to do their best.” 

While the sport is “male-dominated,” she said she has always given it “her all,” and now it’s starting to pay off—literally. She noted in rodeo, it’s possible to make a lot of money. 

“I think of it as my job,” she said, “and it’s nice to have a job you love.” 

Arriola said she will study agricultural business at Central Arizona College, a two-year community college about 20 miles outside Tucson. Her goal is to earn a degree and come back with an education that she can use to help run her family’s two ranches and farm in Willowcreek. 

Arriola, who has lived on a ranch or a farm for most of her life, said running one is “hard work.” 

“You work from sun up to sundown,” she said.

News tip? Contact Steven Mitchell at [email protected].

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