Diné College freshman earns spot at College National Finals Rodeo

Delvecchio Kaye (Navajo) competes in a recent rodeo. Kaye tries to balance his studies with becoming a rising star in the national collegiate rodeo arena. Submitted photo

Delvecchio Kaye (Navajo) competes in a recent rodeo. Kaye tries to balance his studies with becoming a rising star in the national collegiate rodeo arena. Submitted photo

TSAILE, Ariz. - Delvecchio Kaye (Navajo) is in many ways just like any other first semester Diné College student, balancing his studies and personal life. What sets this 22 year old, Round Rock, Arizona freshman apart from his peers is that he is a rising star in the national collegiate rodeo arena.

Delvecchio, a member of the Diné College Rodeo Team and first semester freshman, is headed to the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in bareback riding June 14-20 in Casper, Wyoming. He ended his freshman season in second place in the Grand Canyon Regional standings and 16th in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association standings.

January is the first time he set foot on the Diné College campus in Tsaile as a student, but it was not his first time at the rodeo. Delvecchio grew up in a rodeo family. His father was a bull rider and bronc rider. His early experiences in the arena included mutton busting, junior bull riding and steer riding, before he found his event in bareback riding.

Delvecchio began competing early in life, winning his first horse at 16. He shyly chuckled when asked about his winnings.

"I don't know how many I've won, but I have lot of buckles at home," he said.

His future goals include finishing his education with a degree in Diné Studies and to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo. Being surrounded by strong supporters is one sure way Delvecchio will achieve his goals. His father continues to coach and support him, as do his friends, many of whom he completes against.

"We push each other to get better, even though we complete against each other," Delvecchio said.

The Diné College Rodeo Team and coach Jackson Craig have also become a major source of support.

"It's good to see Delvecchio do well in school and in sports here at Diné College. We always encourage student learning first and athlete second," Craig said. "The main goal for coaches here is to have our student athletes finish and graduate."

Delvecchio also hopes to continue to help build the team with his involvement.

"I want to help recruit students to join the team," he said.

The Rodeo Program provides students with help getting scholarships and membership and provides travel expenses for attending events. And with Delvecchio's recent placement in the CNFR, the Diné College Rodeo Team is sure to turn the heads of many more potential Native American and non-Native American rodeo student-athletes.

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