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Yuma teen rodeo queen loses title over adult spat
A teenage rodeo queen has lost her title after rodeo organizers and the girl’s mother couldn’t get along.
Until this week, Alisha Crowder-Morehead, 16, was the 2012 Teen Queen of the Yuma Jaycees Silver Spur Rodeo — and by Jaycees President Gwynn Roach’s account, the girl did an excellent job representing the group in her crown and sash. But the Jaycees concluded that continued clashes with Alisha’s mother, Victoria Crowder-Morehead, were reflecting poorly on the organization and had become a breach of Alisha’s contract.
Crowder-Morehead said a personality conflict between the adults is being taken out on a young girl, and that Alisha is crushed that her queen title was stripped.
The girl agrees: It hurts.
“It’s just... It’s just hard,” Alisha said tearfully.
Roach said that essentially, when minors are royalty, the whole family enters the contest and represents the Jaycees at functions they attend with their young daughters. Parents are contractually held to the same standards of respectful conduct as the girls, who serve as ambassadors of the Yuma Jaycees and its rodeo.
She said complaints about Victoria Crowder-Morehead from officials at other rodeos — queens commonly visit rodeos in other cities to help out or observe the pageantry — and continued failures to reach a compromise with Alisha’s mother led the club to make an unfortunate and difficult decision.
The title will stay unfilled until the next pageant in February.
Roach wanted to re-iterate that the problem was not with Alisha, who she said is a sweet girl.
“She’s bubbly... She’s exactly what a Teen Queen should be,” she said.
Crowder-Morehead has been at odds with the Jaycees rodeo program before. When her older daughter Chelbea held the 2011 Silver Spur Rodeo Queen title, the club voted to strip the elder daughter of her crown for a similar breach of contract.
She has a litany of complaints about the Jaycees and its leaders. She said they play favorites with the girls in their royalty program, taking a shine to Alisha’s runner-up at the expense of the girls holding titles and unfairly grooming the other girl for future success. (Roach acknowledged that the friendly relationship between Alisha’s runner-up and the royalty director could be misconstrued, but said the other girl was simply attending other rodeos for fun with friends, at her parents’ expense.)
When parents question the rodeo officials, they become targeted, Crowder-Morehead said: “It’s either their way or it’s no way.”
Roach said rather, rodeo organizers ran up against Crowder-Morehead. She said the Jaycees tried to find work-arounds to avoid conflict, such as having Alisha travel to out-of-town events without her mother. When Crowder-Morehead rejected that, they decided that Alisha would not be able to represent the Jaycees outside of Yuma.
Earlier this month, she did that when she traveled with her family to Las Cruces, N.M. to attend the Miss Turquoise Circuit pageant in support of Chelbea, a contestant for that crown. While there, Alisha wore her own regalia and represented the Yuma Jaycees program.
Crowder-Morehead said she had the written permission of the Jaycees’ rodeo chairwoman to do so.
That trip, she said, was what caused the Jaycees to revoke her younger daughter’s title.
Roach said that it was Crowder-Morehead’s conduct at the Oct. 9 Jaycees rodeo committee meeting, not long after the New Mexico trip, that drove the club to take its final action.
Crowder-Morehead, who is not a Jaycees member herself, attended the meeting to speak up about the ongoing drama. She was asked to stop speaking and then to leave, which she would not do. The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office trespassed the entire family, including Alisha, from the Jaycees’ clubhouse.
Roach confirmed that she wanted Crowder-Morehead to stop speaking publicly once she mentioned that she’d consulted an attorney. She also wanted to prevent a fight.
At this Tuesday’s meeting, the general membership voted to revoke Alisha’s title. Crowder-Morehead, who wasn’t present at that meeting after having been trespassed, said she found out through word of mouth. A process server delivered a letter to the family on Friday.
Alisha said she found out through Facebook, which humiliated her.
“I’ve never done anything wrong to them,” she said. “Ever.”
After the kerfuffle with Chelbea — Roach said the title revocation was never finalized — Crowder-Morehead said she and her husband pleaded with Alisha to reconsider her own involvement with Silver Spur royalty. But she was adamant that she keep competing because Yuma is her hometown and she was optimistic that if she was a good queen, everything would be better for her.
“I tried to prove somebody wrong and it didn’t work,” she said.
Crowder-Morehead said it was a rough reign for Alisha, but she earned her title — queens are judged on personality, poise and horsemanship as well as appearance — and it shouldn’t have been taken from her.
“She’s only a little girl.”
Roach is disheartened because rodeo royalty is only a small part of what the Jaycees, a community service organization, do. She said that she doesn’t want to speak ill of Crowder-Morehead, who she understands is standing up for her child. But when the mother’s personality started to impact the organization overall, they had to take a step back.
“Removing the crown was an absolute last resort, what-are-we-gonna-do-now kind of thing,” Roach said.
Hillary Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.