McKenzie Haley: Miss Rodeo America | TSLN.com

McKenzie Haley: Miss Rodeo America

Alaina Mousel, Editor

Screams, tears and an overwhelming sense of pride. That’s the reaction family and friends had when Miss Rodeo South Dakota, McKenzie Haley, was crowned Miss Rodeo America 2011 on Saturday, Dec. 4, in Las Vegas, NV.

“We all cried,” said Tracie Haley, McKenzie’s mom. “We’re just so tickled for her because she has worked so hard.”

McKenzie, the 23-year-old daughter of Tracie and Jim Haley from Winner, SD is pursuing a degree in elementary education from Black Hills State University. This is the first time in 25 years there has been a Miss Rodeo America from South Dakota.

Receiving the title and crown was the culmination of hard work and dedication that McKenzie set her sights on at a young age. “She’s said since she was 10 years old that she wanted to be Miss Rodeo America,” Tracie said.

The road to the crown has been marked by much determination on behalf of McKenzie’s family. Tracie explains McKenzie is the oldest of five children who are involved in every sport there is. At times Jim stayed home with the family while Tracie and McKenzie traveled to rodeos. Other times, McKenzie’s grandparents pitched in. “Our extended family played such a big role helping McKenzie get this far,” Tracie said.

Erin Retzer, Miss Rodeo South Dakota 1994 and First Runner-Up Miss Rodeo America 1995, is both aunt and mentor to McKenzie.

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“Since McKenzie was 13 or 14, she spent summers with my family in Rapid City,” Erin said. In May, McKenzie moved in to prepare for the Miss Rodeo America competition. “It’s been hectic. Every day there was something we were working on – talking about news, clothing and possible responses.

“It’s been our thing together,” Erin said of her mutual love of rodeo and being a rodeo queen with niece, McKenzie. “We’d been to Miss Rodeo America pageants since [1995] and you notice questions that reoccur and what you should be prepared to answer.”

Erin said she worked with McKenzie on being “whole” throughout the week-long competition.

When Erin competed in pageants, she would joke with her parents, Keith and Geneice Gebhart, that she could never repay them for all they had done. At the time, her father said, “Your repayment will be helping someone else.”

“After McKenzie won,” Erin said, with tears of recollection. “He said ‘You’ve paid us back.'”

Screams, tears and an overwhelming sense of pride. That’s the reaction family and friends had when Miss Rodeo South Dakota, McKenzie Haley, was crowned Miss Rodeo America 2011 on Saturday, Dec. 4, in Las Vegas, NV.

“We all cried,” said Tracie Haley, McKenzie’s mom. “We’re just so tickled for her because she has worked so hard.”

McKenzie, the 23-year-old daughter of Tracie and Jim Haley from Winner, SD is pursuing a degree in elementary education from Black Hills State University. This is the first time in 25 years there has been a Miss Rodeo America from South Dakota.

Receiving the title and crown was the culmination of hard work and dedication that McKenzie set her sights on at a young age. “She’s said since she was 10 years old that she wanted to be Miss Rodeo America,” Tracie said.

The road to the crown has been marked by much determination on behalf of McKenzie’s family. Tracie explains McKenzie is the oldest of five children who are involved in every sport there is. At times Jim stayed home with the family while Tracie and McKenzie traveled to rodeos. Other times, McKenzie’s grandparents pitched in. “Our extended family played such a big role helping McKenzie get this far,” Tracie said.

Erin Retzer, Miss Rodeo South Dakota 1994 and First Runner-Up Miss Rodeo America 1995, is both aunt and mentor to McKenzie.

“Since McKenzie was 13 or 14, she spent summers with my family in Rapid City,” Erin said. In May, McKenzie moved in to prepare for the Miss Rodeo America competition. “It’s been hectic. Every day there was something we were working on – talking about news, clothing and possible responses.

“It’s been our thing together,” Erin said of her mutual love of rodeo and being a rodeo queen with niece, McKenzie. “We’d been to Miss Rodeo America pageants since [1995] and you notice questions that reoccur and what you should be prepared to answer.”

Erin said she worked with McKenzie on being “whole” throughout the week-long competition.

When Erin competed in pageants, she would joke with her parents, Keith and Geneice Gebhart, that she could never repay them for all they had done. At the time, her father said, “Your repayment will be helping someone else.”

“After McKenzie won,” Erin said, with tears of recollection. “He said ‘You’ve paid us back.'”

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