North Dakota High School Rodeo Association National Director Craig Maley [Photo: Dakota Horse Magazine]

Rodeo isn’t just a sport; it’s a way of life — rich in tradition, family, and the spirit of the West. Amid this vibrant community are individuals like Craig Maley, the newly appointed North Dakota High School Rodeo Association (NDHSRA) national director, who embraces dedication and passion for the rodeo lifestyle.

Maley’s path into the world of rodeo began long before his role as a director. With a background rooted in the western way of life and a love for capturing moments through the lens of his camera, Maley has been an integral part of the North Dakota rodeo scene for more than a decade. “I do it for the kids,” Maley emphasized, reflecting on his motivation to serve the rodeo community.

Maley’s journey stems from admiring rodeo athletes to being a college track star to now a director. Hailing from New Mexico, a job brought him to North Dakota. “I fell in love with the state and the people,” Maley said.  He added that the warmth and hospitality that welcomed him to North Dakota kind of grew on him.

The photographer said his love for rodeo led him to arenas across the state, where he found not only a new home but also a sense of belonging within the close-knit rodeo community.

For Maley, he says rodeo is a calling that goes beyond the camera. The cowboy grew up learning from his dad, who was a rodeo photographer, so the lens was passed like a torch. Photography became second nature for him. And to most, the camera man may not be seen in the arena, however, the memories he captures last a lifetime.  The countless runs and thousands of shots require focused attention for sometimes 10 to 14-hour days, in other words: old fashioned ‘hard work’.

Transitioning into his new role as the National High School Rodeo director, Maley says he will remain committed to both photography and rodeo. “I’ll still take pictures,” he said, emphasizing his dedication to both preserving memories and shaping the future of high school rodeo in North Dakota.

As a director, Maley’s responsibilities are diverse. “Basically, I help set the rules, follow the rules, policies, procedures — whatever we have in place, whatever we have between the national rulebook and the state bylaws and so forth.”

With over 15 years of experience in the North Dakota junior high and high school rodeo associations, Maley brings knowledge and insight to his new position, ensuring that the needs and concerns of young rodeo athletes are met with professionalism.

Among the challenges of navigating sponsorship and organizational obstacles, Maley says his focus remains consistent: the well-being and fulfillment of the young competitors. “I want the kids and families to walk away from this association knowing they had a great experience,” Maley said. “Years down the road, whether it’s their grandkid or their kid that they bring him back to the association and say, ‘This was a great experience for me.’ It’s to help give them the opportunity. It’s a big family.”

As this North Dakota staple takes on his new role as national high school rodeo director, his vision for the future is as clear as a camera lens: to uphold the legacy of rodeo excellence while providing a supportive environment for all. With his commitment to the well-being of young athletes, Maley says he is excited to lead North Dakota High School Rodeo into growth, opportunity, and success.



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