This year’s event will be the 50th anniversary of the UMW Rodeo Banquet. Proceeds from the event provide rodeo student athletes with scholarships and partial travel expenses during the regular season and for the College National Finals at the academic year’s end.
“Montana Western rodeo is grateful for fifty years of continued support from our community, friends and parents,” said head rodeo coach Olie Else. “Our rodeo athletes have earned degrees and many have gone on to graduate school with their help and support.”
The banquet is hosted by the Rodeo Team and Club with the assistance of the Athletic Department and the Montana Western Foundation. In addition to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Rodeo Banquet, legendary coach Iola “Olie” Else will be honored. Else will retire from coaching at the completion of the College National Finals in June of this year. She has been involved with the Montana Western Rodeo Team and Club for the past 50 years.
Iola “Olie” Else was born in Salmon, Idaho and grew up in Tendoy where her parents ran the Tendoy Store. She attended school there through sixth grade and then went to Leadore for junior high and high school. Else has attended every Montana Western Rodeo Banquet since the inaugural banquet held in 1968 when she was a visiting recruit looking at what was then called Western Montana College. Else graduated from Leadore High School in 1969 and went to WMC that fall. She competed in barrel racing, breakaway, team roping, and goat tying. She was Homecoming Queen in 1971, runner up for Miss Western in 1971, and Miss Rodeo Idaho in 1973, going on to compete for Miss Rodeo America. She was a member of the Central Board and student government, Spurs (a service organization), a Resident Assistant and manned the college switchboard.
Else has been the faculty advisor for Montana Western Rodeo and took over as head coach in 1994. In an article by J.P. Plutt, he wrote, “She doesn’t wrestle steers or ride broncs, but Rodeo Coach Olie Else is the motivating force behind the Rodeo Team’s most successful run in school history. Under her direction, Montana Western Rodeo has become a Big Sky Region Kingpin and national power.”
Rodeo Team members have held positions in national rodeo organizations and have received many awards including the Montana Western Women winning the Big Sky Region five years in a row from 1998-2002, and in 2000 UMW won nine of the 11 individual titles. Olie was named NIRA Coach of the Year in 2004, the only woman to have ever received this award. In 2017, UMW had two seconds in the nation, with Ruger Piva in Bull Riding and Tristan Hansen in Bareback. Montana Western student Lorrie Ann Smith placed in the top ten in the 2018 Miss Rodeo America, a first ever achievement for a Miss Rodeo Hawaii contestant in the history of the competition.
According to Else, “I am proud of all the kids, including my own, that rodeoed and graduated from Western Montana College and the University of Montana Western. They are veterinarians, doctors, lawyers, teachers, bankers, entrepreneurs, rodeo coaches, and contributing members of society.”
Tickets for this year’s Banquet have already sold out. To be added to the ticket waiting list or to make an auction donation, contact the UMW Foundation at 406-683-7306.
For those who are unable to attend in person, a live stream of the event will be available starting at 4:45 pm on the day of the banquet by visiting https://portal.stretchinternet.com/montanawestern/ (click on the TV icon).