Jasleigh Montagne earns award in honor of Orangefield’s Bailee Raye

Published 12:30 am Thursday, April 21, 2022

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ORANGEFIELD — Jasleigh Montagne’s favorite part of competition is the adrenaline rush she feels each time she operates in the arena.

The Orangefield 18-year-old says her greatest attribute is a disciplined mental approach.

She’s going to need that and a whole lot more if she wants to accomplish her goal — qualifying for College National Finals Rodeo.

To get there, Montagne is looking to excel next school year at Sam Houston State University. And, she is bringing some significant recent accomplishments.

Earlier this month, Montagne earned the “Raye” of sunshine award at the Texas High School Rodeo Region V Finals.

Bailee Raye Ackerman Byler of Orangefield was tragically killed in 2018. (Courtesy photo)

In honor

In 2019, organizers established the “Raye” of sunshine award to honor Orangefield native Bailee Raye Ackerman.

Nominations are accepted each year for members that display exceptional character, leadership and sportsmanship. A committee reviews and chooses one recipient.

Five girls were nominated in 2022, and Jasleigh Montagne was chosen the recipient.

Ackerman and husband William Troy Byler were tragically killed in 2018 following their wedding when the helicopter they were in crashed during their exit from the reception.

Montagne said she started crying when informed of the award.

“I just was very honored,” she said. “It was very emotional because the thought of someone speaking of me was very sweet. I would rather this award than any other award given out, earning, placings or scholarships. When I found out they have this scholarship for Bailee Raye, I was actually hoping I would get that one. I am very proud and happy to have received the award.”

Region V in the Texas High School Rodeo Association presented an award honoring Bailee Raye Ackerman Byler to Jasleigh Montagne, a senior from Orangefield. (Courtesy photo)

Hard work

Montagne says she has participated in rodeo since she was in diapers, often traveling with cousins to Louisiana for action is small jackpot events.

She joined the Texas High School Rodeo Association in junior high.

Learning how to lose and staying humble about winning have been important maturing milestones within the sport, she said.

“Yes, I am competing against other individuals, but it is really me competing against myself,” Montagne says. “I can kind of compare the mental game of golf and the mental game of rodeo as the same.”

Montagne plans to participate in breakaway roping at Sam Houston State and has already signed with a coach.

“I will see where it takes me,” she said. “I do truly love and enjoy the sport.”

Montagne joked that she picked Sam Houston State because, “it is closer to home but it is not too close where it is a short ride for my mom to come visit me.”

In all honesty, she complimented the school’s rodeo team and program, noting the school is very involved in the program’s success.

She also knows a few people attending Sam Houston, so it doesn’t feel lonely.

“Rodeo is a hard sport, so there are a lot more negatives then positives,” she said. “I do encourage the younger crowd to not give up and see the positives in the moments and just keep working hard.”