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BY SARAH BERMAN, MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE

In her first semester at the University of Saskatchewan, Katie Dutchak missed barrel racing with her horse Rootbeer Kazanova. A competitive cowgirl throughout high school, she missed the type of community the rodeo had offered her.

Not anymore. Last January, the first-year arts and science student teamed up with fellow student and racer Shelby Clemens and brought competitive rodeo back to U of S. (A similar club existed in the 1970s).

Dutchak, now vice-president of the Rodeo Club, had no trouble getting in the saddle after a year out of the ring. She competed in barrel racing, goat tying and pole bending (a timed event where racers weave between six poles) at the university’s first inaugural rodeo in September—an event she helped build from the ground up.

Launching a competitive rodeo club took hundreds of hours to achieve, but Dutchak says it makes her university experience more complete. She says she’s happy not to choose between rodeo and school. “It’s perfect. I get the best of both worlds.”

Canadian university students have thousands of clubs from which to choose. There are political parties, religious associations, charity organizations and even a yo-yo club. Clubs connect students and help them learn new things. And when students can’t find one that suits, they simply start their own. For some, like Dutchak, it’s a way to meet friends and make university feel more like home. For others, it’s a place to try something completely different.

“Because it’s our first year for our team,” says Dutchak, “we have beginners, we have people competing in the CCA [Canadian Cowboy’s Association], which is our semi-professional association here in Canada. We really have a little bit of everything.” Students who had never raced before “found a place in the rodeo family,” she adds.

The complete story—plus descriptions of 10 more unique campus clubs in Canada—is available in the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings issue on September 27, 2012.

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