From discovering she is allergic to horses to her coronation at the Miss Teen Rodeo Idaho Pageant, one could say this girl has endured quite the journey. Sage Saccomanno, a sophomore at Sandpoint High School, took her reign in the Bonner County Rodeo arena to the next level this past July. Competing for the title of Miss Teen Rodeo Idaho at 15 years old being the only contestant from North Idaho (and the first in quite a few years), Sage dove into what might be one of the highlights and biggest learning experiences of her life so far.
Only being involved in rodeo for four years, to some people her resume could view much differently. Starting in the arena as Little Miss Bonner County Rodeo in 2015, Sage has grown tremendously in the last few years. Sarrah Eberley, 2017’s Miss Bonner County Rodeo and a great and true friend to Sage, said, “I watched and taught Sage when she first started riding, and being able to see where she is now is so special to me.”
The road to the Miss Teen Rodeo Idaho Pageant was no easy feat. It was a long process; a lot of preparation to make that final trek down to Nampa, Idaho, where the competition was being held. Studying for her competition exams, practicing speech questions and memorizing horsemanship patterns doesn’t give a teenager much time to relax and have a lackadaisical summer. Sage and her mom, Kari, did everything they could to make sure that Sage was as prepared as possible. Plastic containers of hundreds of flash cards layered their dining room table. Hanger after hanger of new rodeo outfits lined her portable closet. Endless hours of riding her Appaloosa, Rocky, in the yard to master the patterns and skills for their hands-on portion. As she tried to get some sleep at night, she would dream of the flashcards and patterns as she awaited the sunrise when she would pursue it all over again.
It was no normal summer for this young lady. Sage definitely had some ups and downs but said what motivated her the most was that she’d been in it and enjoyed it for so long that she needed to challenge herself by going out of her comfort zone to accomplish more. Motivation and determination are key elements in a lifestyle like this. It can be a very long and exhausting haul. Nevertheless, Sage learned key factors of perseverance through the whole process.
As Sage, Kari and Rocky made their way down to the competition, Sage studied the entire way. As they arrived, Sage had no idea what was in store—the lessons she would learn, the friendships she would make and the experiences that would last a lifetime. It was a sleepless six days. Sage ran on a total of six hours of sleep during the entire competition. Between preparing at the host family’s house, problem-solving wardrobe incidents and learning choreography for a dance performance, sleep was the last item on the docket.
Although she didn’t feel it in the heat of the moment, the sleep deprivation kicked in as soon as the closing coronation seceded. The lack of sleep, however, proved to Sage one of many valued lessons of the competition—her ability to persevere. “That week was one of the hardest and most challenging weeks of my life, but I was able to push through it and go there to do what I set out to do. Although I didn’t win the competition, this experience will follow me wherever I go and all the lessons that followed.”
As the Miss Rodeo Idaho Pageant came to a close, the mind and heart were strained. Placing third runner-up in the State of Idaho for Miss Teen Rodeo Idaho, Sage was bummed that her placement wasn’t higher. However, third runner-up is no defeat. Sage was 15 years old while the other contestants were all 18. On top of that, Sage was awarded the Mayor’s Speech Award for her intelligent and graceful speech about her desire to study abroad. To have the youngest contestant win an award for her speaking skills is quite an achievement.
Sage did not let her placement hinder her from her overall takeaway from the competition. She simply used this as a lesson to learn and grow from in order to better herself and continue to pursue her passion in the future. Sarrah said, “Sage put so much effort into tryouts, and she had a great chance of winning even though the girls were a few years older. No matter what was thrown in her path, she was never discouraged. I am so incredibly proud of her entire journey.”
Rodeo occupies a very special place in Sage’s heart. She has had so many memorable moments and lasting friendships that it is hard not to see her passion for rodeo as she represents the county. “I enjoy knowing and physically seeing the positive impacts I make not only on our community and rodeo here but also on the amazing people I meet along the way.”
Rodeo isn’t the only part of Sage’s busy schedule though. This past year, on top of preparing and competing in the Miss Teen Rodeo Idaho Pageant, she flew to Toronto, Canada, to partake in a leadership conference. Sage is the sophomore class president at Sandpoint High School and finds joy and satisfaction in leadership.
Last year, a very motivational and inspirational speaker, A’ric Jackson, presented at the high school. After being inspired by the way he talked about leadership, Sage was inspired to attend his Count Me In youth leadership convention, one of the world’s biggest youth-run events. It’s designed to create inspiration, motivation and empowerment to the youth of the world with skills needed to be successful and create a fulfillment of self and others. Students from all over the world attend, and Sage had the opportunity to meet incredible people from amazing countries and backgrounds to expand her knowledge and network.
This year, Sage was selected as one of only four community catalysts to organize the convention for next year. She participates in training once a month with the leadership team as they prepare for the 2018 Summit. Sage is a very busy young woman and takes pride in how she is able to help her peers. Her connections are endless, and she has the desire to continue to make those connections throughout the community, the nation and even the world.
After finishing her reign of 2017, Sage will not be participating, officially, in rodeo the following year. She will be taking a year to join the Rotary foreign exchange program for the 2018-19 school year. Although she has not been assigned a country yet, no matter where she goes she will be able to utilize the lessons and skills that rodeo has taught her to show her passions to the rest of the world. Another challenge awaits Sage’s journey. With her past, though, and the growth she has made through her lessons learned, she will accomplish what she sets out to do with grace, charisma, perseverance and a true and kind heart.