Congratulations to the Whatakid of the month, Daniel Dunham! This eighteen-year-old senior competes in steer wrestling, team roping and calf roping. Steer wrestling is his favorite event because of the rush he gets every time he backs into the box. Daniel rides a dapple-gray named Jake, who he bought from a family friend. He loves that if Jake ever gets loose, he will instantly go back to his pen.
Daniel has been part of rodeo ever since he was a little boy. “I started rodeoing when I was 5 years old. When I started I never dreamed it would take my life,” Daniel said. He joined TJHRA in the seventh grade and is now a member of THSRA.
“My favorite memory would probably be when I caught my first calf. Nothing beats that feeling when you get to call someone and say you finally won something,” Daniel said. He went on to explain that his biggest accomplishment is when he won Steer Wrestling in the Founders Rodeo in Hallettsville. “I had started my year out not so well in the region rodeos. I missed my first few steers. Then I went to Hallettsville and not only caught but won the average. It helped build my self-esteem back up,” Daniel said.
Not only does Daniel compete in rodeo, he also plays varsity basketball and is a member of the National Honor Society at Rivercrest high school. He was named honorable mention basketball player his sophomore year. Daniel also enjoys spending his free time hunting.
Daniel has qualified for state every year of his high school rodeo career. His freshman year he qualified in steer wrestling and team roping. He went in both of those events sophomore year as well as adding calf roping. This year he was also the region 4 Steer Wrestling Champion. His junior year he competed in calf roping and steer wrestling. As a senior he is qualifying in all three of his events so far, however there are still four rodeos left.
When asked if there were any sacrifices he had to make in order to compete in rodeo, he simply replied, “I do not think you make sacrifices when you are doing what you love.” His entire family supports him greatly. “I call all those late nights at the practice pen and miles on the rode great memories, not sacrifices,” added Shelia Dunham, Daniels mother.
Daniel tries his best to keep a positive attitude. He believes that “your next run is your best run” and counts this phrase as his life motto. Professional calf roper, Shane Slack is someone who Daniel really admires. “In the past few years I have gotten close to him and he has helped me with so many things. One of the reasons I look up to him is because he cares about everyone and wants the best for them,” Daniel said.
He has come a long way from his 5 year old rodeo self, however he has a soft spot for the little ones and loves to help others. “He loves to help the smaller kids. I still think about last summer when we went to Whitney and then on to Cleburne the next day. It was really hot and I am pretty sure he mugged for most, if not all, of the younger kids that night in ribbons and tie downs. Then lots of the girls had him and that was before he even roped. He was pretty hot and tired but enjoyed every minute. That night on our way to Cleburne he said some of those kids are going to have to find someone else tomorrow I can’t mug for everyone. After the rodeo I ask him what happened to not mugging for everyone, he smiled and said I just couldn’t tell them no,” Shelia said.
In the future, Daniel plans to attend Stephen F. Austin and earn a general marketing degree. He does plan on continuing to rodeo throughout college.
Daniel is honored to be chosen as this months Whatakid!