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'This isn't my first rodeo' Heidi Schmidt appointed to VP of WRPA

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Heidi Schmidt competing in a barrel race. / Photo courtesy of Heidi Schmidt

The rider's hands are tough from grappling the reins; movements precise and in tune with her large and spirited counterpart; widened eyes revealing focus and confidence gained from years of previous experience. These are the characteristics that make Heidi Uecker-Schmidt a powerhouse not only on the circuit, but also in the boardroom.

Uecker-schmidt, a local veteran rodeo star, was named national vice president of the Women's Professional Rodeo Association. Her years of professional rodeo experience, raising a child and working to help the hearing-impaired community mark her as a person capable of juggling many horseshoes at once.

Uecker-Schmidt began her life in Hettinger, where in high school she became a two-time state champion and all-around cowgirl. Her multitude of other state championship titles secured her a full-ride scholarship to Dickinson State University, but so too did her grades. During this time, she began to rodeo professionally and later continued her education even attaining her master's at the University of Mary. For the past 10 years, Schmidt has been an essential part of the Miracle Ear team in Dickinson as the hearing instrument specialist and manager.

In 2014, she was elected by the Badlands Circuit Board to become the Badlands Circuit director, which put her on the WPRA board.

WRPA is the oldest women sporting association, founded in 1948 following a gathering of 38 women in a hotel in San Angelo, Texas.

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“I did kind of hem and haw at first because I have a 19-month-old daughter, but for them to come together and vote for me unanimously and put their belief in me ... it was a such a high honor,” Uecker-schmidt said.

Rodeo continues to consume a large part of uecker-schmidt's life, who together with her husband, Joe Schmidt, attend around 40 rodeos a year.

“Rodeo has shaped my direction in life,” uecker-schmidt said. “It is me stepping into something that my peers are asking of me and I am just so happy that they value my thoughts and opinions and think that I can make a difference.”

Her new role will see her assume even larger responsibilities.

“My position before was largely to represent the badland circuit where as Vice President I am involved in more avenues, especially on the national level,” uecker-schmidt said. “My focus has had to shift to larger rodeos across the country, and contract negotiations.”

Even with a change in focus, Schmidt still made a point to mention Dickinson’s recent achievements through the WPRA Badlands Circuit, where they were recipient of the Justin Best Footing Award for having the best ground for horses.

Her strong voice and personality are expected to garner support and success in her new role, a position that already comes with the support of many of the WPRA members.

“I work on a great board with a strong group of women and their confidence in me makes my confidence soar,” Uecker-schmidt said. “I'm not nervous moving forward, but I have been around for six years. Like they say, ‘This isn't my first rodeo.’”

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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