Miller goes pro; earns rookie of the year title


By: Kate Jackman-Atkinson

It’s been a good season on the rodeo circuit for steer wrestler Justin Miller of Neepawa. In his first year in professional rodeo, Miller qualified for Canadian finals and won the Canadian Pro Rodeo rookie of the year award.

Miller, who grew up south of Neepawa, is the son of Brenda and Neil Miller and grand son of Ron and Shirley Miller and Don and Dona Montgomery. Growing up, Miller competed in high school rodeo and following graduation, he attended Dickinson State University where he competed in college rodeo.

For the past two years, he’s been living near Calgary where he was working and rodeoing as an amateur. “This is the first year I’ve rodeoed full-time,” he said.

For the last two years, Miller competed on a semi-pro card, which allowed him to compete at both amateur and pro rodeos.  “I was pretty content to go and amateur rodeo,” he said.  But some persistence from his friends convinced him it was time to turn pro. 

Given the success he’s had this year, Miller made the right move. 

“It’s one award I’ll never be able to win again,” he said of winning Rookie of the Year. “I’m fortunate to have done as well as I did in my rookie year. It’s a pretty good feeling.”

Miller came into CFR finals, held in Edmonton Nov. 5 to 9, ranked second in steer wrestling. He described his first pro rodeo finals experience as an eye opener. “I’ve been in lots of buildings and to lots of rodeos… [CFR] is the biggest rodeo in Canada, nothing compares to it,” he said of the atmosphere in Rexall Place during finals. For each of the six performances at finals, the stands were packed with more than 20,000 spectators and the purses were large.  Miller won the fourth round and picked up a cheque in both the first and third rounds.

The move to pro rodeo has meant one big change, a lot more travel. One weekend, Miller went to rodeos in both Armstrong, B.C. and Jasper, Alta. and another weekend, he competed in Cranbrook, B.C. before driving all night to get to the rodeo in Virden, Man. 

Miller doesn’t travel the circuit alone however, he goes with three other guys. “I enjoy it, it’s a good crew of guys,” he said.  

Miller is appreciative of those who have supported him. “I’d like to thank the community and everyone involved,” he said. He also credits his horses for helping him achieve such strong results this season. 

Based on the success of this season, Miller plans to keep rodeoing full-time.  In a couple of weeks, he’ll be heading south to rodeo through the winter.  Based out of the Phoenix area, he’ll start his season in early January in Denver. After that, he says, “I’ll keep rodeoing through the summer.” He’s hoping to qualify for CFR again next year.

Photo: Justin Miller steer wrestling at the Kindersley Indoor Rodeo, May 20 - June 1 in Kindersley, Sask.

Photo submitted