Rodeo has always been a way of life for Kody Lahaye, from when he was a child to now as a fifth-year senior in college.
“Both my mom and dad did rodeo,” said Lahaye. “I have been doing it since I can remember.”
Lahaye was a high school rodeo stand out who attracted the attention of Montana Western’s rodeo coach Iola Else.
The Wilsall, Mont., native proved himself in the college rodeo world in steer wrestling, tie-down roping and team roping. He has competed in the College National Finals Rodeo three years and now serves as the student director for the Big Sky region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA).
As the student director, Lahaye said he has learned many skills he hopes will benefit him down the road.
“I have quite a bit of responsibility and leadership, which I think will help me later on in life,” said Lahaye. “I have also had to do a lot of public speaking, and that’s something I haven’t got to do a lot before.”
The student director is responsible for finding sponsorships, acts as a student liason and attends board meetings to go over rules of the NIRA.
Lahaye is also working on making his way back to the College National Finals Rodeo this year. Since Lahaye has already put in his four years with the Montana Western team, he can’t accrue points for the team but can rack up individual points.
“I thought last year would be my last,” he said. “Fortunately, I have already got to go three years. My first year there was really intimidating and nerve-racking, but now I have a lot more confidence.”
Lahaye finished second in the Big Sky Region in calf-roping and then finished fifth in steer wrestling at the CNFR.
Montana Western has a rich tradition of excelling at the College National Finals Rodeo. This past year, the rodeo team had 10 athletes qualify for the CNFR in Casper, Wyo. Lahaye said this is helpful when competing against bigger schools.
“We usually do well down there,” said Lahaye. “Our school is pretty well-known there.”
In addition to competing in college rodeos, he competes in professional rodeos.
The choice to come to the University of Montana Western was an easy one for Lahaye. He said he graduated high school with about twenty other kids and he liked that Dillon offered that same small town feel.
“I was curious about the block scheduling program,” said Lahaye. “Since I grew up in a small town, I really liked that same atmosphere here in Dillon. Having only 20 kids in a class is something I wanted.”
Lahaye is at the beginning of his fifth year at Montana Western. He is majoring in business with an emphasis in equine management. During this last year, Lahaye will also get his teaching certificate.
In 2009, he received the Montana Western Chancellor’s Leadership Scholar Award. The scholarship provides full tuition for four years. The recipient must maintain a 3.2 grade point average. Lahaye said he has been on the Dean’s List every year he has attended Montana Western.
He hopes to teach high school and coach both rodeo and basketball after graduation. And of course, he plans on continuing to compete in rodeos.
“I want to keep doing rodeos as long as I physically can,” said Lahaye.