Montana Western’s storied rodeo program has its new head coach.
With longtime head coach Iola “Olie” Else stepping down at the end of the spring season, Western alumni Kody Lahaye will take the reins of the Bulldogs, the athletic department announced Tuesday.
Lahaye, who rodeoed for Western from 2009-14, is currently the assistant coach to Andy Bolich at Montana State University.
He will assume the Western position on Aug. 1.
“We are very excited to have Kody Lahaye return to Montana Western as our new head men’s and women’s rodeo coach.” Western athletic director Bill Wilson said in a release. “Kody is well respected within the rodeo community and throughout the hiring process his name kept surfacing as the one to lead our nationally recognized rodeo teams.”
Lahaye, a native of Wilsall, was a four-time College National Finals Rodeo qualifier as a Bulldog, competing in tiedown roping, team roping and steer wrestling. He finished fifth and eighth in steer wrestling at the CNFR in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
After graduating with a degree in business administration, Lahaye stayed in Dillon as an assistant coach for two years before accepting the position at Montana State.
“When I got the call it was like going back to my home away from home,” he said. “The Dillon community is so supportive. I grew up in a small town, so that was an easy transition for me when I went to school.”
Else, who became the head coach of the program in 1994, leaves behind a legacy of both building a nationally respected rodeo program and a groundbreaking coaching career. In 2004, Else was named the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association coach of the year, the only woman to win the award.
“She’s been there a long time, and she made Montana Western a nationally recognized team,” Lahaye said. “There’s pressure to step into shoes like that and keep the tradition alive … There’s always a little bit of pressure I guess, but with my competitive side, I like that.”
The Bulldogs will lose a number of quality cowboys and cowgirls to graduation, but Lahaye said there’s a wealth of talented underclassmen he’s looking forward to working with.
He’s looking forward to recruiting, too. He said he expects to bring in athletes from across the state in the years to come.
“Kody is a Bulldog through and through and I am certain he will make an immediate positive impact on the UMW campus.” Wilson said.
Lahaye’s wife, formerly Justinn Marshall, was a two-time national qualifier as a cowgirl while studying at Western.
“We both love that community a lot,” Lahaye said. “I’m really excited, it’s a great career chance.”