After the Final Bell: Clemmons teen excels as a rodeo competitor
Published 12:10 am Thursday, November 15, 2018
By Larry Stombaugh
For the Clemmons Courier
When one thinks of where a young teenage girl puts her time and energy, participating in rodeo competitions would not likely come to mind. Sienna Ricciardi is not a typical teen, and for the past four years, she has used her athletic talents and a determined spirit to become one of the best rodeo competitors in her age group in the country.
At the age of nine, Sienna was introduced to rodeo competitions by a friend who invited her to an event in Harmony. When she approached her mother, Chrisann, about the possibility of becoming involved in the sport, she responded by saying, “Sure you do. Every girl wants a horse.” Little did Chrisann know that her nine-year old child was quite serious about her intentions that would eventually lead to a professional career in rodeo that would include earning an income at a very young age.
Her mother noted that “we started with borrowed horses. Now, we have two of our own horses and two horse trailers.” The horses and the trailers are at the Oak Grove Barn and Equestrian Center in Lewisville.
Sienna has competed in competitions as close as the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem and as far away as South Dakota. She recently won the All Around Competition in the Junior Division in the Junior Southern Rodeo Association. In May, Sienna was honored as Rookie of the Year in the Junior High Division of the North Carolina High School Rodeo Association at the completion of the state-wide season. By placing in the top four of all her events in the NCHSRA, she qualified to represent North Carolina in Huron, South Dakota.
Sienna competes in five different events at her rodeo competitions. They include goat tying, breakaway roping, ribbon roping, barrel racing and pole bending. Competing in rodeo is similar to competing in NASCAR. The athletes in both sports compete in circuits, and they accumulate points that determine their success. Chrisann noted that rodeo is a Division One sport just like football, and that the sport is especially competitive in colleges and universities in the West and Southwest. Sienna especially enjoys the speed and the strength that are involved in competing in the sport.
While most teenagers do not earn money until they are at least 16, Sienna has already won more than $5,000 competing in rodeo competitions so far. She has also won prizes that have included buckles, and recently, she won her first saddle, a significant prize worth about $3,000.
Sienna’s success in her unique sport are the result of natural talent and an impressive work ethic. Chrisann picks her up from Forsyth Country Day School, where she is a student, a few minutes before the school day ends so that she can practice in daylight. This involves a trip to Iredell County where Sienna meets her coach, Tracy Morris, for rigorous training sessions.
Sienna credits Morris, a former professional rodeo champion, for much of her success. “She is a great coach. She’ll tell you straight up if you haven’t had a good run. In my two years with her, she has helped me with my skill and my mental game by giving me confidence.”
In addition to the coaching that she receives from Morris, Sienna has a conditioning coach, Laniel Crawford, who works with her on footwork and strength conditioning. Since she is designated as a professional rodeo competitor, she also has a sponsor, The North Point Superstore, a Ram dealership in Winston-Salem.
Chrisann indicated that Sienna’s involvement in rodeo competitions “is a family thing.” Her son Giovanni, who plays football for West Forsyth High School, is very supportive of his sister, and Chrisann and her husband Ralph support her by traveling with her and encouraging her to continue her involvement in a sport that she clearly loves.
Both parents have adopted a lifestyle that they enjoy but did not expect. Chrisann is from Texas and Ralph is from the Bronx in New York City. “This is all new to us,” Chrisann noted, “and we are a first-generation family involved with this sport. This is a generational sport. Sienna has had to climb the ladder because we were not involved like the other families who have competed for several generations.”
Sienna noted that her friends are intrigued by her involvement in her unique sport. “It surprises people that I’m doing this.” While competing in rodeos is her passion, she also plays basketball at Forsyth Country Day, and she began writing for the school newspaper this year.
Both Sienna and her mother feel that she has learned many life lessons as a rodeo competitor and that the sport has prepared her well for her future. Sienna commented that “taking care of animals that have a mind of their own prepares you well for life. Also, the traveling that we have done teaches you to handle different situations.”
Chrisann agrees that her daughter has benefitted significantly by being involved in her sport. “She has learned responsibility. She has already had to learn how to handle money and how to raise money for her sport.” Even though she already has one corporate sponsor, Sienna has recently been filling out applications for more sponsors.
When asked if she is considering a future as a rodeo competitor, Sienna indicated that she would like to compete in college. While she is too young to be concerned with making a college choice now, Texas Tech is a school that she might consider.
Regardless of where she attends college, Sienna is already well prepared for her future. She is quite an amazing young lady who will likely have much success in many aspects of her life.
If you know a young person in our community who has made a significant impact on their school or in the community, please email Larry Stombaugh at LKStom@aol.com for consideration for a story in a future edition of After the Final Bell.