UW's Nikki Steffes Wins National Rodeo Award
The awards keep piling up for the University of Wyoming's top all-around rodeo team member.
Nikki Steffes is the recipient of the Walt Garrison Top Hand Award. She was honored Monday night at a College National Finals Rodeo dinner in Casper and received the award during Tuesday's night performance.
Steffes, a molecular biology/medical microbiology senior from Vale, S.D., and UW will each receive $2,500.
The Garrison Award is given annually to the individual who exemplifies the qualities of initiative, loyalty, tenacity, commitment, honesty, perseverance, integrity and leadership. The award is named for Walt Garrison, the former pro football player for the Dallas Cowboys, who was on hand to present the award to Steffes.
This is the 10th year the award has been given during the CNFR. Steffes is the first UW team member to win the honor.
Students are nominated by their respective regional representatives, with the winner being chosen by the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Board of Directors.
"I was honored to just be selected from my region," Steffes says. "Then the nominees at the national level were just amazing. I am really honored to be selected as the national recipient."
Steffes, who made the President's Honor Roll every semester at UW, carried a perfect 4.0 GPA during her four-year collegiate rodeo career.
According the rodeo association's announcement of her award, Steffes was noted for her work ethic, ability to relate to others and leadership qualities that have all earned "her the respect from college rodeo coaches and family members, and most important, her peers. She is the epitome of a true all-around cowgirl."
Steffes has qualified for the CNFR all four years during her UW career. She is the school's all-time leading individual scorer, winning the regional all-around title all four seasons. She has won the regional barrel racing title all four years and was the goat tying champion three times.
At the CNFR, Steffes won the national all-around title in 2007 and has been the national goat tying runner-up the past two seasons. Going into the third round of goat tying competition at this week's CNFR, Steffes is third in the average in her specialty event and is sixth in the all-around points chase.
"A lot of people have helped me along the way. My parents made sure I got the opportunities to learn about rodeo from great people," a humble Steffes says. "I have a really supportive family as well. No matter what college you are from, coaches and contestants from other regions are always supportive of one another. That's what makes college rodeo so unique and special."
Earlier this season, Steffes said she would like to give professional rodeo a try before returning to graduate school to either become a dentist or a medical doctor. As the regional student director, the UW senior will return next fall to compete in the rodeo arena once again. But because her eligibility has run out, her individual points cannot be used for the Cowgirls' team.
After receiving the Garrison Award, Steffes was quick to answer what award she has not won during her illustrious rodeo career.
"A national goat tying award would be nice," she said smiling.
University of Wyoming all-around cowgirl Nikki Steffes accepts the Walt Garrison Top Hand Award during Tuesday's performance at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper. The award is for character and leadership among other criteria. Former NFL All-Pro and professional rodeo competitor Walt Garrison stands to the right of Steffes. (Aaron Ontiveroz Photo)
Posted on Wednesday, June 17, 2009