Cathy Jo Ayotte : From Epidemiology Surveillance Specialist to Boise State Bronco Girl

It’s no wonder why Boise State holds the nation’s highest home winning percentage (.939).

Each home game on The Blue at Albertson’s Stadium starts out the same way. Buster Bronco encourages each side of the stadium to loudly yell “BOISE” “STATE”, Seven Nation Army starts playing over the speakers, and the “Bronco Girl”, a young lady on a horse carrying a flag adorning the Bronco emblem, rushes down the field, leading the football players out of the tunnel while the crowd screams in excitement and anticipation.

Cathy Jo Ayotte of Kuna, Idaho has been selected as this year’s Boise State Bronco Girl. 

She is joined by her trusty steed, Blue, and both are honored to perform this task at each home game this season.

After riding her first horse at just 3 days old (with help from her Papa), Cathy Jo has barely left the back of a horse since. She grew up gathering cattle, riding trails, and completing ranch work such as fixing fence, doctoring animals, and irrigating from the back of a horse. She participated in 4H, rode with the EhCapa Bareback Riders for 5 years, and held numerous Rodeo Queen titles in Idaho and Oregon.

She has carried more Sponsor Flags in rodeos and parades than can be measured. She rode with competitive equestrian drill teams including the Rawhiders, the Rough Riders, and the Meridian Lions Rodeo Invitational Drill Team.

Cathy was selected to carry the lighted American Flag during all performances of the Snake River Stampede in 2012 and 2017, and was a member of the flag team at the 2017 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas

Alongside a full-time job as the Epidemiology Surveillance Specialist for the Idaho Division of Public Health, Cathy Jo is working towards her Master’s in Public Health from Boise State. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Meridian Lions Rodeo, serving as the Queen Events Director, Sponsor Flag Drill Team Captain, and the Grand Entry Director, volunteers with the production committee of the Snake River Stampede, and organizes the Grand Entry for the Idaho Cowboys Association Finals Rodeo.

Cathy Jo and her show horse, Pleaser, compete in the American Stock Horse Association, where they are currently leading the National Standings in both the Reining and Cow Horse Novice divisions. The pair are also successfully defending their title as the Collegiate All-Around Champion of the Ranch It Up show series.

The position of Boise State Bronco Girl is a job. Cathy Jo submitted an unusual type of resume, as it had two sections – one for her own accomplishments, and one for her horse. She also included some photos in her submission, displaying pictures of her carrying flags at multiple events. Dozens of other young ladies vied for the coveted position, but Cathy Jo’s resume stood out and she was selected for the position in mid-June.

Cathy Jo will be riding “Blue”, a bay paint horse who seems as though he was made for this job!  Cathy Jo first met Blue 12 years ago when riding with the EhCapa Bareback Riders, she instantly fell in love with him and longed for the opportunity to ride him, as he was owned by someone else. A few years later, Blue’s owner offered to let her ride him for a drill team performance at a local rodeo and they instantly became best friends.

Cathy Jo and Blue held their first practice at Albertson’s Stadium in early August. The first practice was simply exposure, where she rode Blue around the field so he could become accustomed to the bright colors, the bold painted lines, and the feeling of the turf, as it is very different than the feel of rodeo arena dirt or a mountain trail, especially with his custom ‘turf shoes’.

Later practices include exposure to the loud speakers, the Blue Thunder Marching Band, as well as evening practices with bright lights.

There will be an opportunity to meet Cathy Jo and Blue on Saturday, August 25th during the Fall Fan Fest.  Following the open practice at 2 pm, Cathy Jo and Blue will be signing autographs on the field. 

Please come say hello, feed Blue some treats, and get a picture!


About BNNStaff

The Bronco Nation News staff.

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