Stampede Princess has a Cougars connection
Faculty of Arts student Courtney Dingreville lets her rural roots shine
Mount Royal University student Courtney Dingreville has always been passionate about the country way of life. The 22-year-old born-and-raised Albertan grew up learning to ride, rope and ranch on her family’s farm near Pincher Creek. This western kid was naturally drawn to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, and at age seven knew that she wanted to become a Stampede Princess. This goal was achieved in September 2018 after weeks of competing against women from all over Alberta.
Dingreville has also been working on a second goal. It involves completing her undergraduate education at Mount Royal University with a double major in English (honours) and history; minoring in speech.
As the 2019 Stampede begins, MRU caught up with Dingreville to find out about her Stampede Princess experience and how her post-secondary education at Mount Royal — with its smaller class sizes — set her up for success.
What inspired you to become a Stampede Princess?
I was seven years old at the stampede parade with my grandmother and out rode these beautiful girls with crowns, big hair and rhinestones. They were so magnificent. I remember telling my grandmother “that is going to be me.” I never forgot about that day.
In 2013, my mom and dad gave me a poster featuring the 2013 Calgary Stampede Royalty — Jessica, Danielle and Catherine. On the bottom it said “do you have what it takes?”
It was a promotion for the contest in the fall to become the next Calgary Stampede Queen or Princess. I went home that night and emailed members on the committee asking when I could apply and what year and all of the details. I was giddy!
I kept that picture on my mirror to motivate me and remind me of that dream every morning.
How does one become a Stampede Princess?
First step is to fill out the application that you can find at csroyalty.com. The application includes a 500-word statement on why you wish to become Calgary Stampede royalty along with a horsemanship competence statement. Once your application is accepted you start the month-long process that is the competition.
The contest runs for the month of September. There are about 17 contestant events that include mixing and mingling with hidden judges, multiple riding contests, speech contests, dinners and interviews. The riding component is huge to our program and within the contest. We’re very lucky to have horses provided for the contest by John Scott Productions, so an applicant would never ride their own personal horse during the contest.
The contest is a lot like training for the role. You learn to make yourself comfortable in situations that might otherwise be uncomfortable. Personally, I had a lot of anxiety about going into a room full of people and just mingling with everyone there, but I learned to make myself comfortable with that situation and now it is a crucial part of my role.
What does a Calgary Stampede Princess do?
Our role is to be ambassadors for the Calgary Stampede. We promote the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth by sharing key Stampede messages inside and outside the Calgary community. This year we have been to various cities in Canada, the United States and Europe to promote the Stampede. When we are out there we embrace that contagious energy that the Calgary community has during those ten days of Stampede and share it with everyone the entire year.
I am very passionate about meeting people and making meaningful connections. It is so important for me and the people I get to meet to know how grateful I am for the opportunity. Even the smallest interactions have been so valuable.
— Calgary Stampede (@calgarystampede) September 25, 2018
What kind of impact do you have in your role as a Calgary Stampede Princess?
I believe that myself, Princess Keily, Queen Carly and First Nations Princess Astokomii really try to maximize our impact everywhere we go by making sure we are informed about the events we are attending and people we are meeting so that we can ensure that we have meaningful experiences and conversations. One thing that we said from the get-go was that we want to leave a legacy that opens doors for future royalty because of the impact we made at events and with people around us.
Outside of our program itself, our impact is to be role models for young people and inspire all ages. One of my goals is to leave the same spark in someone else that made me want to do this many years ago. I want to inspire young people to feel like they can do anything.
What are your future plans and aspirations?
I want to become more involved in our family business. We raise cattle on our homestead ranch. My brother and I, along with our cousins, are the fifth generation on the ranch and I want to see it continue into the future. I also plan to finish my undergraduate degree at Mount Royal and apply to law school to become a lawyer.
Why are you pursuing a career in law?
I have always been a very passionate person. I enjoy dissecting an argument and taking it out to its logical conclusion. I’ve always been the person who needs to know the answer and who goes and finds the answer if need be. I think that the field of law is dynamic enough that within it I will be able to find the perfect niche for me.
Why did you choose Mount Royal?
I found some success in high school, but after being exposed to the lecture theatres through diploma prep classes I didn’t have the confidence to go into a 300-plus person classroom.
Mount Royal has the environment that I need to be successful and to build both the confidence and competence to move forward with my studies. I like that the campus is intimate and active. I also like that the classes are small, professors are approachable and passionate.
Mount Royal allowed me enough space to find my voice with enough guidance to be able to use it. If not for some of the classes and experiences that I’ve had at Mount Royal I don’t think I would have been as successful in my role as Stampede Royalty. You learn a lot more in university than just what is written in your textbooks.
What three words describe your student experience at Mount Royal?
Growth. Challenging. Encouraging.
What is the best piece of advice you received at Mount Royal?
Always edit your first draft.
July 5, 2019 — Rob Petrollini