This week we bring Titleholder Tuesday back to the Show-Me State with this week's guest. From Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri to 1st Runner Up at Miss Rodeo USA, we're talking about April (Brown) Hawley. I've known April since she was Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri in 2006 and she is the prime example of how a rodeo queen should be. April has won many category awards during her queening days as well as the very important horsemanship competition. Keep reading to find out how April prepared for Horsemanship and her other experiences while queening!
How did you get involved in rodeo and rodeo queen pageants?
I was fortunate to grow up in a family that loved horses. We spent our weekends at play days and would always go to watch the local rodeo when it came to town. My mother, Cindy Brown, held several rodeo queen titles when she was younger, and I grew up playing with her crowns and sashes, dreaming of one day walking in her shoes. We were at the American Royal PRCA Rodeo, when they introduced a “Teen Queen.” I had always dreamed of running for Miss Rodeo Missouri, but had no idea that I could start earlier as a teen! So we immediately began preparing and I competed in my first pageant, Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri 2006, and won. After that I held a title every year till 2015 when I met the love of my life.
Even though you were a teen and didn't compete at Miss Rodeo America what did you learn traveling as Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri versus competing in the Miss Rodeo USA Pageant?
Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri was my very first title, and I learned so much traveling across Missouri and Kansas. I was blessed to be one of the first state teen queens to get to travel outside of my home state, and I met so many great people along the way. Networking is everything. Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri, and other titles, prepared me in so many ways to run for Miss Rodeo USA. From TV and Radio interviews, to Parades, to visiting children’s centers and nursing homes, to working rodeos and signing autographs, I learned how to promote what I loved and be an active part of the greatest show on dirt.
What was your favorite memory of competing in the Miss Rodeo USA Pageant?
My favorite memory is the people I met during the Miss Rodeo USA clinic and pageant. I actually competed three times, winning numerous categories, as well as Second runner up and also first runner up, but none of the awards compare to the friendships that came from that pageant. Even though we are states away, it feels like I gained sisters. Another favorite of mine was Horsemanship. This is my favorite event and the 5 Star Quarter Horses are AMAZING to ride! You really can’t get a bad draw.
What is one piece of advice you learned from your director, Sherrie Norris, as Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri that further helped you when preparing for Miss Rodeo USA?
Sherrie taught me so many things. She helped to perfect my flag carrying, how to work a crowd, both in and out of the arena, she also helped me with working cattle in the arena. But most of all she always wanted us to be ourselves, and to have fun… And I believe that is huge when being a rodeo queen. You can only put on a smile and fake it for so long, but if you are yourself, and genuine, then that is beautiful!
Being a horsemanship winner for Miss Rodeo USA, what advice would you give to girls on how to better prepare for this phase of competition and do you believe horsemanship is one of the more important aspects of rodeo queen pageants?
My biggest piece of advice is to go take a few English lessons… Proper horsemanship never gets old and will never go out of style. Learning to ride correctly will help you in more aspects than just the rodeo queen world. After you have learned proper body position and how to be “soft,” my next advice, is ride everything you can. I firmly believe horsemanship is the most important aspect of a rodeo queen pageant. While personality, knowledge, and speech are very, very important, a rodeo queen spends a lot of her time on horseback, and most of the time not on her own horse. At rodeos I’ve ridden everything from pick-up horses, to roping horses, to barrel horses, to old faithful horses, to 3 year olds that have only had 30 days on them. You never know what is going to be available to you, and knowing how to ride anything, and properly, is huge.
Why did you decide to compete for the title of Miss Rodeo USA?
I met Miss Rodeo USA 2006, Stacey Jo Johnson, while I was Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri and became even more interested in the IPRA and the association. Then in 2009 my mother and I attended the Miss Rodeo USA 2010 pageant as visiting royalty and to watch a friend compete, and there we met Dakota Misseldine, who went on to win Miss Rodeo USA 2010. After meeting several past queens, and being there in person, I just knew I wanted to be a part of that group and wanted to compete for Miss Rodeo USA. After competing the first time, I was hooked. The people, the association, the girls were all amazing and I knew I wanted to go back. And I am so glad I did.
What has life been like since queening and how did being a rodeo queen prepare you for it?
Life has been amazing. I married the man of my dreams in October 2015 and we had our son in December 2016. I’m still involved with horses, just not as much as before. We live on 40 acres in South Western Missouri and I run barrels on my “unicorn” Ruby. She is just one of those one in a million horses that I trust my little guy to ride on, that will go in Halter class if I want, but will also get a check at a jackpot. I currently work for Expedia Group, providing systems support to our hotel partners (no I can’t get anyone hotel discounts, Sorry!). Being a rodeo queen prepared me for a lot in life. It taught me patience, interview skills, public speaking, presentation, but most of all to just be myself and to do what I love.
If you could give one tip or trick to girls who are just starting out in the rodeo queen world, what would it be?
You win some, you lose some, but the biggest success is when you know you did your best. There is always going to be someone that has a better horse than you, better clothes than you, better hair than you, more sponsors than you, a bigger trailer, or a bigger truck… but none of that matters. What matters is that you prepare for the job at hand, because being a rodeo queen IS a JOB! And that when the pageant comes, you do you best. Learn from where you made mistakes, and celebrate your victories. Always have bobby pins and lipstick in your purse, and always, always smile…. Someone is ALWAYS watching.
Time and time again, our titleholders all have one piece of advice in common and that is to stay true to who you are. April's piece of advice is one that I believe every rodeo queen or rodeo queen contestant should read because it's true. There will always be someone who has something better than you, but the materialistic items don't matter when competing. Also, I think many queens and contestants forget that being a rodeo queen is more than carrying flags and signing autographs, but it is a job!
Thank you April for doing this interview with us!
Until next time,
Miss Ozark Rodeo Association Pageant