2019 Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Inductee
Iola “Olie” Else has been an ambassador of the University of Montana Western and the sport of rodeo for over three decades. Olie has regularly been seen wearing her iconic tailored red jacket and ringing a cowbell to cheer on her UMW rodeo athletes. In 1999, she was named “The Grand Dame of College Rodeo,” at the College National Finals in Casper, Wyoming. Current and former students recall her leadership and support while in college and remain a part of her extended family long after graduation. The UMW men’s and women’s rodeo teams have consistently been named Regional and National Powers with six national champions, 22 regional champions, and 20 top-ten finalists. Coach Olie has been the motivating force behind the rodeo team’s most successful run in school history. The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) awarded her Coach of the Year in 2004 and again in 2018. The UMW team with Olie at the helm was named “Great Montana College Rodeo Program” at the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame gathering in 2014. Olie was rodeo club advisor for over 30 years and won the UMW Best Club Award 32 times. She is the only woman to have been named NIRA Coach of the Year and the only person that has won the award twice.
Olie has been honored as the Chief Marshall to escort seniors at the UMW graduation, given the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, the Jane Helm Maddock Service Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award for lifelong commitment to the Western way of life at the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame. She has also been named Big Sky Rodeo Coach of the year ten times and Outstanding Faculty Member six times. She was recognized on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington D. C. by Representative Gianforte with the “Spirit of Montana” honor in 2018.