Gadsby youth makes impact on rodeo scene despite brain injury

Jace Thorsteinson smiles for the camera outside at the Stettler Agricultural Society Grounds on Sat. Nov. 23 during a team roping jackpot. ECA Review/T.Huxley
Terri Huxley
Written by Terri Huxley

Jace Thorsteinson smiles for the camera outside at the Stettler Agricultural Society Grounds on Sat. Nov. 23 during a team roping jackpot. ECA Review/T.Huxley

Most have heard the phrase “Fall down seven, get up eight”.

Well for Gadsby cowboy Jace Thorsteinson he has done exactly that – and then some.

Although most days are spent in the classroom while he attends Lakeland College, the 18-year-old’s weekends are typically spent in the arena announcing.

In October, he was named Youth Citizen of the Year at the Stettler Awards Banquet for his determination and enthusiastic character that was proven to have the crowd laughing within minutes of his speech.

Thorsteinson began roping and joining rodeos at the age of nine through 4-H in the Halkirk club.

From there he went after more competitive jackpots as the years progressed and his skills developed.

He was getting prepared for his first high school rodeo four years ago when he had a headhorse fall down on him.

After being sent to the hospital, it was determined he had severe brain damage called a shearing.

This happens when the person hits their head extremely hard followed by an immediate stop which the brain is still moving inside the skull.

“It bounced off all the sides and in the CAT scan, little white dots mean that area is dead and my whole brain was pretty much white,” he said.

Thorsteinson was out for five months in recovery time but found the strength to continue as he set a goal of being able to ride again.

“My injury happened on August 26 and the first time I rode was December 26 in the Stettler arena. It’s a pretty cool place.

“It all snowballed from there. I had been doing good to get up to the point of me riding but then as soon as I did ride it just took off.”

Soon after he was back on his feet, he attempted to rope again, only to find “it just wasn’t the same”.

“I loved who I was hanging out with before so I wanted to figure out a way how to stay with those kinds of people,” said Thorsteinson.

Stettler was hosting a junior rodeo at the time so Thorsteinson was initially going to judge the event but instead was given the mic as he had hurt his knee.

He asked the producer of the rodeo if he could announce and they were on-board with the idea.

“It all just took off from there,” said Thorsteinson. “So I’ve been announcing for about 2 1/2 years as of now and yeah, I love every day of it. It’s so fun – like getting paid to talk, yes please!”

Since he started he has seen some of the largest rodeo arenas in Canada, including the coveted Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) in November as an announcer for the Rising Stars afternoon.

“CFR was amazing, it was my second year doing it and it was a great honour the first time and it was even more of an honour to do it again this year to get the call back to go.

“It kind of reinsured to me that well ‘you’re obviously doing something right’ if the CFR calls you back again so that was a pretty good feeling.”

He worked alongside some of the best people in the business like Brett Gardner and Dave Paulson, gaining valuable insight when it comes to large scale production and speaking.

Before CFR, Thorsteinson had announced at any level like junior high, high school, and college rodeos.

As a first-year student at Lakeland College, he has big dreams to establish his own space in the Heart of Alberta where he can conduct announcing clinics and host jackpots or even a full rodeo.

He is at school for Agricultural Sciences with a major in Equine.

In the meantime, Thorsteinson is working towards announcing his first pro rodeo as his next step.

Rodeo is not a new thing to the Thorsteinson family as both of the young cowboy’s grandfathers used to team rope.

His parents help with the Stettler Ag Society often by helping organize events.

“It’s awesome because no matter what avenue you want to get into with the sport of rodeo, you can get into it here in Stettler,” said Thorsteinson.

“Hire me!” he joked.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.

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