Sydney Daines is no stranger to spending hours of her life on Alberta’s highways.
Like many cowboys and cowgirls on the Canadian pro rodeo circuit, the 20-year-old barrel racer from Innisfail spent this past summer racking up the miles as she tried to earn enough money to qualify for the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton.
“I went to I think 33 rodeos this summer, so it was a lot of travelling,” said Daines, who is among the 12 barrel racers that qualified for the CFR this year.
Although this will be Daines’ second time qualifying for the CPRA’s annual finals event (she finished third in Canada after qualifying in 2014), the young cowgirl said she’s extremely happy to have made the cut.
“It was hard to watch from the stands in 2015, so I made sure it was a goal this year that I would make it to the CFR,” she said, adding her horse Flame has been one of the major reasons that she’s had so much success this year.
“He was very consistent this year, which for him is sometimes a hard thing to do. He’s an older horse now, so he’s become much more consistent.”
Rodeo has always been part of life for the Daines family. Sydney’s father Duane Daines is a former Canadian all-around champion while her mother Cheryl is an avid barrel racer and former Miss Rodeo Canada who often travels and competes with her daughter on the pro circuit. So it would make sense that Sydney would follow in their footsteps.
“I was kind of born and raised in that lifestyle. I probably knew how to ride a horse before I could walk.”
But for Sydney, rodeo is just half of the story.
The other half is spent out on the soccer pitch.
“My mom put me in soccer when I was younger. She always liked soccer when she was a kid. At first she tried to put me in ballet but I didn’t want to go. I would start crying. It was too slow for me,” laughed the former Red Deer College Queens soccer player, who made her CIS debut with the University of Alberta Pandas this season.
It hasn’t taken long for her to start making an impact at the CIS level. In her rookie season the former ACAC All-Conference forward started all 14 games and led the Pandas in goals (five) and points (12) as they finished third in the Canada West-West Division, which puts them in a good position for playoffs which start this week.
“It went really well. I actually just scored my first hat trick in the CIS,” said Sydney, adding that growing up playing in the Red Deer Renegades soccer program played a big role in her development as a soccer player.
“It was nice to be at home a lot. I know some girls would travel in U14 soccer – travel up and play in Edmonton or Calgary. But I like staying in Red Deer and I think if you’re good enough they can find you anywhere you are.”
The commitment to playing for U of A has led to a very busy schedule Sydney said, but it’s nothing that she can’t handle.
“My mom and my dad do a lot for me. This summer, that was basically my life was rodeo on the weekends and then I came up in the summer and spent three days in Edmonton playing soccer and then going back home and ride my horse. So that’s basically my life,” she said, adding the school year has been even tougher for her as she spent most school nights out on the pitch.
“I’d try to go home some of the days to ride my horse or my mom will meet me at Ponoka halfway. There’s a big indoor arena and we ride him there to keep him conditioned,” she said.
But it’s all been worth it and as she prepares to ride into the Northlands Coliseum for the CFR starting on Nov. 9th, she said her main goal is to just be consistent.
“Overall, the main goal is to be a Canadian champion but I would just like to be consistent and finish in the top four.”
Other Red Deer County rodeo athletes joining Sydney at the CFR this year include team roper Travis Gallais and steer rider Carter Sahli.