Rodeos are a way of life for many in West Texas. Ranch life turned into a competition, they are common events on the High Plains. WT even has a rodeo team, a reflection of the local and regional culture.
What is uncommon, though, is having a national rodeo champion among your ranks. Quade Hiatt, a Marketing major and 2023 graduate, added that to his resumé this last June at the College National Finals Rodeo when he was named Men’s All-Around Champ. The event was held in Casper Wyoming. Hiatt scored 365 points, which was more than triple that of the nearest competitor. He took second in team roping, and fourth in tie-down roping.
While Hiatt demonstrates versatility across rodeo events, his primary skills are in calf roping. The Canyon native has now turned professional, and finds himself on the road for what is a nearly year-long occupation. He recently returned to Canyon after several months on the circuit.
Hiatt, 23, attended Happy High School, and was in rodeo during those years. He then went to Cisco College, an institution he describes as a “rodeo college.” Hiatt was then offered a scholarship at WT, and returned to his hometown. Only the top three in each of the ten collegiate regions get to compete in the CNFR. This was his second trip to the championships.
Noting the rigors of rodeo and the toll it can take on a body, Hiatt is cautiously ambitious about his future as a professional. “It all depends on how long your body lasts. I’d like to make a 10-year career, give or take a couple of years,” he said.
Rodeo is in Hiatt’s blood. “I come from a big rodeo family. My grandfather on my Mom’s side was a world champion. One of her brothers was a world champion, and another brother made the finals many times.”
Asked what he hopes to do with his Marketing degree, Hiatt chuckled. “To be real honest with you, I hope I don’t ever need it. I hope that rodeo provides me with other opportunities.” But just in case he does need to fall back on his degree, his academic training will be paired nicely with all the experience he is gaining selling himself to sponsors.
Hiatt acknowledges a strong parental influence in his graduating from WT. “Ever since I was little, my Mom insisted I get a college degree,” he continued. To that end, he persisted, even though he was likely good enough to have gone pro long before he received his diploma. Dropping out to pursue rodeo fame was not an option.
But now it is, and for Quade Hiatt, rodeo is life.