story by Lindsay Humphrey Very few people get the opportunity to compete on their childhood unicorn through high school rodeo. But that’s exactly the case […]
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Meet the Member Dakota Johnson
story by Lindsay Humphrey
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is devastating, it has brought about some good. For Dakota Johnson of Veguita, New Mexico, it was the idea of homeschooling. “My parents (Richard and Rebekha) finally let me stay home and do school. It’s saved us a lot of heartache and time. I put my time in at school and then I practice as much as I want to. I love it because I get to rope 90% of the day,” said the 17-year-old, high school senior. Dakota’s parents figured he would spend all his time in the roping pen instead of doing schoolwork. Dakota proved them wrong during the fall semester and intends to do the same in the spring.
Spending more time practicing has shown Dakota where he wants to go after high school. “I want to team rope professionally if I can make a living off this. Nobody really wants to get up and go to work. I’d rather team rope and keep going down the road.” Life is summed up pretty simply for Dakota: “All I do is team rope and all I want do is practice team roping.” This number five heeler used to ride bulls and compete in other timed events before discovering his true passion. Team roping doesn’t run in the family, but it did just down the road. “One of our neighbors is my dad’s best friend and kind of like my extra dad. I went over to his house every day after school and he told me to spin him some steers. I decided to learn something different and I ended up falling in love with it.”
Even though Dakota has team roping on his mind 24/7, he also has a sound head sitting square on his soldiers. He looks up to Allen Buck for more than just his smooth, downward tip. “I really admire how Allen puts God first and he’s also able to put his family, life, kids, everything before team roping. Yet, the event has evolved around him. I want to be able to put everything important before team roping but still be competitive in it.” First listening to Allen’s wisdom at a Smarty clinic during his first high school nationals, Dakota has taken Allen’s words to heart and put them to practice. He’s a regular at the local junior rodeos; helping kids in whatever way they need.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t see a lot of pros or even older locals help out at the junior rodeos. I love going to these junior rodeos and watching these kids get into the sport. When I started helping out at those is when I truly started becoming a better team roper.” It was also at Dakota’s first high school nationals that he heard a speech during the special needs rodeo that has stuck with him for several years. “It was really neat to watch all those pros help the kids who will never get to do this for a living. It made me truly happy. Now every time I hear there’s a junior rodeo in town, I’ll go help.” Self-described as an “average joe roper who catches a lot,” Dakota does his best to be helpful, talk to kids and be nice to everyone.
Although the humble team roper truly enjoys the event, he wouldn’t do it if he didn’t get to compete at rodeos. Jackpots just don’t have the same buzz in the air for Dakota. “I love the culture of rodeo and going down the road almost every weekend. There aren’t many sports you’re always meeting new people who are better than you in our own event that are still really great.” A competitive nature drove Dakota into team roping and the pursuit of a better run than the last has kept him in it. “I really hate losing. I like to push my limits that require me to compete at my very best.” Of course, Dakota wouldn’t have the opportunity to test his limits in his favorite activity without the help of two people: his parents. “I don’t tell my parents how much I appreciate them nearly enough, but I’m certainly always glad they’re here for me.”