Verbena native to compete for Miss Rodeo America title

Verbena native and Miss Rodeo Alabama 2011 Wesleigh Whittle hopes to add one more belt buckle to her collection later this year in Las Vegas.

Whittle, who is now 21 but has ridden horses since the age of 2, competed against six girls in March, vying to become Miss Rodeo Alabama.

“I’ve been competing my whole life just to get this one title,” said Whittle. “It’s a lot of hard work and practice. Right after I won, I started buckling down and practicing for the Miss Rodeo America Pageant.”

A little different from a regular beauty pageant, Rodeo contestants are judged in numerous categories including modeling, horsemanship, appearance, personality, a speech, interview, a written test and an impromptu question.

Whittle has been competing in these pageants for so long she does not get nervous anymore, she said.

“In 2007, 2008, I was Alabama High School Rodeo Queen, so I’ve had the experience of competing with so many girls,” said Whittle. “Right now, I’m not nervous about the Miss Rodeo America competition, but I’m sure when I get there I will be.”

Each rodeo pageant state winner will compete in Las Vegas from Dec. 3-10 with hopes of being crowned Miss Rodeo America.

As the winner of the state’s preliminary competition, Whittle’s rodeo pageant prizes included Miss Rodeo Alabama chaps, one for her to keep and one she will pass to next year’s winner; the Miss Rodeo Alabama 2011 title; a banner; a belt buckle; gifts; and a $2,000 scholarship.

In Whittle’s family, rodeos are considered family traditions. Her grandparents, mother and brother all do rodeo, and all support her 100 percent in her endeavors.

“My grandmother is my biggest supporter,” said Whittle. “It’s kind of a family tradition I was born into.”

Whittle’s mother, Michelle, was the Alabama High School Rodeo Queen in 1982, and she followed in her mother’s footsteps by earning the title in 2007.
Her brother, Chance, was named Alabama High School Bareback Champion in 2005.

Whittle currently lives with her grandmother Dorothy Turnbow, in Verbena. When she isn’t practicing for a competition or representing the state and promoting the sport of rodeo, she enjoys leisure time with her friends and family.

“Most of the time I’m on a back of a horse riding, but on days I’m not doing that I like being with my friends, shopping, bowling and cowboy mounted shooting,” she said.

Whittle attended Jeff State Community College Clanton Campus, but after winning the state her schedule became hectic.

Next spring she plans to attend Auburn-Montgomery to study business marketing and accounting with hopes of performing taxes for farms and rodeo companies, and owning her own western store.

In addition to being crowned Miss Rodeo Alabama, Whittle holds several other rodeo competition titles, including the Southeastern Livestock Rodeo Queen, and she received a $2,000 scholarship at the SLE Rodeo in Montgomery and the 2010 Miss Limestone Sheriff’s Rodeo Queen First Runner-Up.

Wesleigh Whittle

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