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Gianforte Announces Spirit of Montana Recipient: UM-Western Rodeo Coach Iola “Olie” Else

May 11, 2018
Press Release

Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte honored Iola “Olie” Else, University of Montana-Western’s rodeo coach, with the Spirit of Montana award for her long-standing dedication to education and the sport of college rodeo. Else is retiring after 25 years as head coach.

Gianforte’s Spirit of Montana is a weekly recognition of Montanans for their accomplishments, dedication, or service. Gianforte provides a statement about the recipient for the Congressional Record and personally contacts the honoree.

Gianforte encourages anyone to nominate Montanans for the Spirit of Montana award by contacting his office at 202-225-3211 or by e-mail at

Gianforte’s statement about Olie Else in the Congressional Record is available HERE, and follows:


Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor Iola “Olie” Else, the long-time rodeo coach at the University of Montana-Western in Dillon.

For more than two decades, Coach Else has been the driving force behind the school’s nationally recognized college rodeo team. The Bulldogs place high in the regional standings and compete for national titles. In fact, her teams rank in the top 10 in the National Collegiate Rodeo Association every year.

The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association named Else Coach of the Year in 2004. She was the first woman to earn the award.

A red blazer and cowbell are Olie’s trademarks at college rodeo competitions. UMW rodeo athletes recognize that ringing cowbell from the stands whenever they rope or ride.

Current and former athletes recall her leadership and support that have guided them through college and beyond. Considered more than just a coach, many of the athletes regard Else as a second mother, and she often refers to them as her kids. Despite the team’s regional and national recognition, Else says she’s most proud that her kids graduate and go out into the world to make a difference.

Olie is retiring after 25 years as head coach, but it won’t be her last rodeo. You can be sure her kids will see and hear her from the stands in future competitions.

In honor of rodeo moms and mothers everywhere, today I honor Iola “Olie” Else for her dedication to education, the sport of college rodeo, and our Montana way of life.