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Brighton’s Courtney Gore vies for National HS Rodeo Queen title

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Miss Florida High School Rodeo Queen Courtney Gore competes in July at the National High School Rodeo Queen competition in Gillette, Wyoming.

Courtney Gore, 2016 Miss Florida High School Rodeo Queen, joined 43 other young ladies and represented her state in the National High School Rodeo Queen Competition in Gillette, Wyoming July 15-23 during the National High School Finals Rodeo. Courtney competed against winners from 40 other states and three Canadian provinces.

Although the Moore Haven High School senior didn’t take the crown, she left Wyoming with skills that will last a lifetime.

“It was a great experience; it changed me,” Courtney said. “Before, I was the one back in the corner. But I learned to walk up to someone I didn’t know and start talking to them. It was awesome talking to strangers.”

The competition took three days for the contestants to demonstrate horsemanship, model, give a speech about their states, take a written test about rodeo rules, and answer impromptu questions by the judges.

They also participated in four rodeo grand entries, mingled with fans, and signed autographs.

As rigorous as the competition was, Courtney was honored to participate. Worried that the other contestants would act as “mean girls,” she was pleasantly surprised when she realized how supportive they all were. She made some lasting friendships during the contest and is in touch with many of her new girlfriends every day.

“Everyone was friends,” she said. “When Miss Montana was crowned, we were all so proud of her. It wasn’t so much about the results, but the experience.”
Going forward, Courtney is looking forward to her reign as Miss Florida High School Rodeo Queen, which will include appearances at monthly high school rodeos and some professional rodeos. During those appearances, she will ride in the grand entry, meet fans, and sign autographs.

“The Wyoming experience will make it all easier,” Courtney said.

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2016 Miss Florida High School Rodeo Queen Courtney Gore

A component of serving as Queen includes implementing her ideas to improve the rodeo experience. Courtney plans to organize a rodeo for kids with special needs and hopes to expand the social aspects of rodeo for all of its participants. She wants to make sure there are group activities after the rodeo to increase camaraderie and friendship among competitors.

“I want to make sure there isn’t a kid who is left out and sitting in the corner alone after the rodeo,” she said.

In addition to her duties as rodeo queen, Courtney will have a busy senior year playing volleyball, basketball, softball, and rodeo, where she competes in barrels and breakaway roping. She has advice for those who may shy away from so much activity.

“There may be things you don’t want to do, but do everything you get a chance to do because it’s all a great experience,” she said.

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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