What began as a way of staying connected to rodeo has turned into a successful career for Sylvan Lake resident Brett Gardiner.
Gardiner was named the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association’s (CPRA) Announcer of the Year for 2012, it was announced last week.
He’ll receive the award at the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton next month. He also won the honour in 2011.
“I was kind of excited, that’s kind of the best in this business, especially because I’m in a class with my idols,” said Gardiner, adding that it was an honour to have his name beside theirs.
It’s been nine years since Gardiner first picked up a microphone as a volunteer announcer at a high school rodeo.
“The first couple of years you never admit,” he said. He added that most announcers get their start after being unsuccessful in the arena.
Gardiner began competing in rodeos while still in high school. After an injury, he figured he wasn’t cut out for the sport, but still wanted to stay involved.
He worked volunteer stints announcing at a high school and a little britches rodeo. He felt nervous, didn’t know what to say, and worried he was awful.
“At the time it was pretty nerve-wracking,” said Gardiner.
Following his debut, Gardiner began receiving more invitations to announce, and started getting paid for his work.
“It was really by accident that the career began,” he said.
Gardiner is a big fan of rodeo, and likes the sport’s camaraderie and family aspects.
“If you like rodeo you love rodeo,” he said.
Growing up in Drayton Valley, Gardiner’s first introduction to the sport was with his parents at their town’s rodeo and at the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton.
His grandparents also took him to chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede.
“I always liked it from day one, it was entertaining,” said Gardiner. “I used to see them as just superstars … just putting them up on that pedestal.”
Gardiner said he was lucky to be successful as an announcer early on, allowing him to pursue it.
The best announcers, said Gardiner, can read the crowd and deliver what they want.
Younger crowds prefer a “rock and roll” atmosphere, compared with older crowds who are more appreciative of western heritage.
“It comes down to judging your audiences,” said Gardiner. He added that he doesn’t usually receive feedback on his work, but tries to do his best. He likes to include personal information about some of the cowboys while announcing.
Gardiner’s announcing duties run most of the year. He has worked at rodeos from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Abbotsford, British Columbia, including those in Wainwright, Innisfail, and Eckville.
He is the youngest announcer to receive his professional card, which he has held since 2006.
When not announcing, Gardiner works at École H. J. Cody School in Sylvan Lake, where he teaches grade 9 math, grade 9 gym, and grade 9 and 10 sports performance.
“Everybody says my jobs are so different, but both my jobs are about entertainment and education.”