Player Profile: Ty Fitzgerald
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 12:02
Most children only wish on birthday candles and dream of receiving their own pony, but Ty Fitzgerald is one of the few that really got her own pony as a kid and still has it today.
Fitzgerald is a senior and UTM Rodeo alumna. She’s had a love for animals for as long as she can remember and growing up on a farm in Collierville, Tenn., with her parents and younger brother, she has always been around them.
She attended a very small high school and enthusiastically expressed her love for the small, close-knit environment and claims it helped her to choose UTM. Before making her decision where to go to college Fitzgerald visited one college, UTM.
“I came and visited and that was pretty much the end of my decision. I’m an Ag Business major so that contributed to my decision and also, rodeo,” Fitzgerald said.
She joined the UTM Rodeo team her freshmen year and was redshirted; she practiced with the team, but did not compete. After she competed throughout her sophomore year Fitzgerald took her junior year off to compete in the Miss Rodeo Tennessee Pageant 2011 and Miss Rodeo America Pageant 2011. Now, as a senior she’s an alumna member of the rodeo team, and she and her horses are taking a much-needed break.
Fitzgerald is more than grateful to her parents for the support they’ve given her.
“I have dreams and ambitions, but I also have them because I’m trying to do something for my parents as well. They provided me with these opportunities and now I have to make something out of them,” Fitzgerald said.
Even though she considers well-bred horses are a good thing, her passion for horses has taken her to new levels.
“That’s why I deal with rescue horses. I could go and spend as much money as everyone else does and buy a rodeo ready horse, or I can work a little harder and take a couple more years and take something that nobody else would’ve taken and, you know, give it a try,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald’s father has mentored her throughout her rodeo life and molded her outlook on it.
“Dad has always had a really different rodeo mentality. A lot of people in rodeo feel like the only way to make it is with money. Money will only get you so far, but a lot of rodeo is hard work and determination. It is literally blood, sweat and tears,” Fitzgerald said.
She treats her horse as if it were her teammate.
“There’s not just a rodeo athlete, but there’s an animal there and that animal is just as much an athlete as we are because we couldn’t do the job without them. Whatever you ride in that arena with, you know that you made it; you know that you accomplished something on this horse and you took something that no one else could handle and you fixed it,” Fitzgerald said.
Winning is a bonus, but it’s not everything to her. Bonding with the horses is more important than anything.
“I don’t look to go win a million belt buckles and saddles; I look to go and fix horses and enjoy the experience of it,” Fitzgerald said.
When she needs to someone to talk to about school or future career plans she always goes to her mother.
“My mom would be my mentor as far as professional ambitions. She’s smart, she’s honest, very determined and I really don’t think there’s anyone I would compare her to. Both of my parents have been more than supportive,” Fitzgerald said.
After talking to a teammate that was a previous rodeo queen Fitzgerald decided to compete and won the title of Miss Rodeo Tennessee 2011, which she says is her highest rodeo achievement.
She was drawn to the pageant because of the scholarship opportunity. Being such an animal lover gave her opportunity to, show people all of the good things about rodeos, and the love that the participants have for their animals.
“The rodeo queen’s job is to promote rodeo and that entails a lot. We are like the state ambassadors. We explain the rodeo to the public and give them a good view of the rodeo so that people don’t get a bad impression,” Fitzgerald said.
Only a few months after she received the state title, Fitzgerald began traveling for the Miss Rodeo America 2011 pageant. She visited various places like Wyoming and Colorado for dinners, speeches and interviews. She ended her travels in Las Vegas to compete for the national title during the National Finals Rodeo. She went through a series of interviews and competitions, which included a personality interview, horsemanship interview and horsemanship competitions.
Fitzgerald placed seventh in the national pageant, which is only the second time in 50 years a Tennessee representative has placed in the Top 10. She won the title of Miss Congeniality.
“What’s funny is my proudest moment was when I got Miss Congeniality. When you go compete with 30 something other girls that don’t have a clue who you are … to get voted that and to think that I made that much of an impression on those girls meant more than anything. And to this day I still have contact with almost every single one of them,” Fitzgerald said.
Although Fitzgerald is busy with school this semester, she takes time to unwind.
“I have a blast hanging out with my friends and I have a blast going home and doing nothing; I get to go home and go to the barn and hang out with my cows, which everyone laughs and thinks is ridiculous but I love it. I like to take things easy, as simple as it sounds,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald has some post graduation plans figured out, while still working on others.
Fitzgerald said, “My first plan is to go back home, I have horses and things I need to take care of around the farm that I haven’t got to tend to in four years.”
“Ideally, I’d like to take a job with either an agricultural company or an equine livestock company and work my way into sales.