Hamiota’s Stephanie Colli is a gritty gal on the rodeo circuit. Now her roping talent is sending her to world competition.
Colli is also known as the GIS environmental technician for Upper Assiniboine River Conservation District based in Miniota.
She has been selected to compete in the first ever Rope for the Crown Breakaway Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada this December.
The top 60 breakaway ropers in the world will be there. Colli and an Alberta woman will represent Canada. If Stephanie wasn’t able to go, her sister Chantel is the alternate.
Colli began roping in high school, stopped for a few years and got back into the rodeo circuit in Alberta.
Then things took a bad turn. Colli was in a rodeo accident that threatened her roping career.
“My horse fell while barrel racing. I severed some nerves in my neck and wrecked my shoulder.”
She moved back to Hamiota and was off work for six months.
Colli was told she would never rope again; never be able to raise her arm to shoulder height. However, with a ton of determination plus physiotherapy Colli retrained her other muscles to compensate.
“I started roping again because … sitting is not really my thing. I came back that next year – three years ago – and made the finals.”
It’s a 50-year-old sport, but “there’s not a lot of us in Canada,” says Colli. “If you get into the States though, it’s huge.”
It’s a fast event where the calf is roped but not tied. Attached to the horn by a light cord, when the calf hits the end of that rope it breaks away from the horn – time’s up.
On Nov. 11 at the Timed Event Rodeo Canada finals at Bengough, Sask. Colli rode the three fastest times - 2.4 seconds, 3.1 and a 3.3. However, she ended up third on her young horse, Mater, because she broke the barrier leaving the starting box.
“I still was third, even with a 10 second penalty.”
Colli suffered a back injury when she was hit in a head-on collision with a drunk driver, just prior to the Heartland finals in September 2017. Now, she is on the list for back surgery.
She went ahead and roped in those finals. This fall Colli won the Heartland breakaway title in Grunthal on Spiderman with times of 2.4 and 3.4 seconds.
The pain in her neck and from the recent injury have not held her back. Colli ropes almost daily, making the trip to Boissevain to team rope with her partner Scott Peters.
She says, “This is my lifestyle. You get one chance at it.”
When the opportunity arose to rope in Las Vegas she talked to her dad. He impressed upon her that it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Colli, her parents Blaine and Melanie and sister Chantel are heading down to Vegas on Dec. 4, where the family will stay in a rented house near a private stable facility.
“I bought a new horse,” she says. “He may go with me. He’s a little different style, slower to leave the box. So if I get there and the calves are really slow then it would be beneficial for me to have a slower horse.”
On Dec. 7 she is entered in a jackpot roping event.
“I wanted to get my horses in the arena and have a chance to rope on them both. I’m hoping it will be the same set of calves.”
She will rope in the main event on Dec. 8.
Along with her family, Colli has a team cheering her on, with sponsorship from the Hamiota community and from the rodeo community sending her to Rope for the Crown.
“My sponsors have paid for my entry fees, about $1500 for the two events, and most of my fuel’s been paid for.”
With daily practice, it’s a rigorous schedule. She relies on a medical team - physio therapist, osteopath, massage therapist, chiropractor and a sports psychologist, plus her regular doctor.
“‘Just rope’ is the mantra that my sister and I live by,” said Colli. “Don’t over think it, don’t pressure yourself, live for today and rope your best because life’s too short to not take the shot that’s in front of you.”