While Sylvan Lake’s Brett Gardiner may not have planned to pursue rodeo announcing professionally, he’s certainly making the most of his unexpected career path.
The 31-year-old recently won his third Canadian Pro Rodeo Announcer of the Year award, while his impressive resume boasts a number of other prestigious awards and high-profile gigs.
Yet, despite his success, he assures it was never his intention to become an announcer. Instead, he initially took up announcing as a way of staying involved with rodeo following an injury he sustained as a contestant.
“I always say it was a career that found me,” he said. “It was never my plan. I’d always planned to get back involved and compete again.”
A decade later, he’s now come to terms with his seemingly ideal fit for the role, and his reputation has grown in such a way that rodeo committees from across the country strive to obtain his services.
“At the beginning, I never admitted it (becoming an announcer). It wasn’t the glamour job,” he said.
“It’s been 10 years now, and I’m not competing, just announcing, and it’s been good. I’ve been extremely blessed to have had the career that I’ve had.”
A high school teacher by trade, Gardiner divides his time between teaching at École H. J. Cody School and announcing at rodeos across Western Canada.
He feels fortunate to be able to pursue two of his greatest passions at the same time.
“I’ve got such a curse — I’ve got two jobs that I love,” he said, adding that his employers at École H. J. Cody School have been extremely supportive of his announcing endeavours.
They’ve allowed him to retain his teaching duties at the school while accommodating his busy rodeo schedule — the latter of which requires sometimes extensive travel.
“How my schedule works, it allows me to do both,” said Gardiner. “I’m lucky that way.”
While the accolades he’s received have helped him become a regular at professional rodeos and PBR (Professional Bull Riders) events, Gardiner cut his teeth at smaller events before he eventually received his first professional rodeo offer.
Aside from an off-season break in December and January, announcing keeps him occupied for the majority of the year.
Originally from Drayton Valley, he’s now lived in Sylvan Lake for the past seven years, and feels that the town’s central location makes it ideal for rodeo enthusiasts.
“Sylvan Lake is one of the best towns to rodeo from,” he said. “We’re in a good spot — we’re pretty central and there are some really good big rodeos within an hour or two from us.”
One of those recently required him to make the relatively short trip to Edmonton, where he announced at the Canadian Finals Rodeo last November.
“That’s our Super Bowl, that’s our Stanley Cup,” he said. “To go there and to work alongside those guys was just outstanding.”
Still, there are several rodeos where Gardiner has yet to make his mark. He has his sights set on one day playing a prominent role in announcing at rodeos in Strathmore and Ponoka, and at the Calgary Stampede.
At just 31 years old, it would seem he’s got plenty of time to do so.
“(Those) are the big three that are off my resume at this point, but hopefully can one day be on it,” he said. “I’m just striving to keep growing and get better and better.”