Heber City • Ever since Sadie Fitzgerald was born, it seems she has taken on a lot of responsibility and never shied away from a full plate. Born into a livestock/ranching family, hard work is all Sadie knew as she began learning the family trade at a young age.
Her mother, Syndi, recalled the first time Sadie rode a horse alone. She reluctantly recorded the event as Sadie’s father, Ben, stood by.
"I think on the video, I’m talking the whole time saying, ‘I don’t agree with this,’" Syndi said. "There’s been times where I’ve had to close my eyes because I would have held her back and I’m just so grateful he’s pushed her and she’s an awesome horsewoman."
The first time Sadie rode a horse was at age 3 and she participated in her first rodeo at 7. A fifth-generation cowgirl on her father’s side, both of her parents’ families lived the rodeo lifestyle — her late grandfather, Nick Ryan, was a professional bull rider.
"My family’s awesome, they support me in whatever I need," Sadie said. "I started out in four events and they’ve let me add on three more."
Currently she is competing in six events — barrels, poles, goat tying, breakaway, team roping and cutting—and traveling to rodeos on nearly a weekly basis. Throughout her training and competitions, Sadie has still found time to be an outstanding student with a 4.0 GPA. She has also carved out time to fulfill her long list of duties as the reigning Mountain Valley Stampede Queen in Wasatch County.
"The time, the money, and the horses — it’s just crazy, the commitment these young kids have," Syndi said. "I think sometimes, they’re just maybe not as recognized as the other sports."
Inside and outside the arena, Sadie shows a lot of determination. "When she gets started on something, she’s very determined and works at it hard," Ben said. "She’s come along way, for sure."
Her father insists that he has not necessarily been a mentor to Sadie; it is just something that their family has been born into for generations. Even so, Sadie gives her dad a lot of credit for her rodeo success.
"My dad really helps me with the roping and the goat tying because he was a really good roper," Sadie said. "He just helps me whenever he can and when there’s a sick calf he says, ‘Well, let’s just have you rope it [to round it up and get it healthy] and we’ll practice a little more.’ He’s really good that way and helping me whatever way he can."
As this high school rodeo season comes to a close, Sadie is not about to slow down. She’ll be queen until July and then she will take over as vice president for the Wasatch County FFA chapter — all this while working on the family ranch and trying to improve her craft.
"I really want to work on being more consistent in the top ten and getting qualified in all my events next year for state," Sadie said. "That’s my goal for the next year."
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.