story by Michele Toberer At 12 years old, 7th grader, Braxton Guillot, has already been rodeoing half of his life, and certainly has roping calves […]
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Meet the Member Damien Lavery
story by Michele Toberer
Damien Lavery is enjoying his third year with the Louisiana Junior High School Rodeo Association and is working hard to achieve his goals of qualifying for the 2019 NJHSFR while also trying to earn a spot on the Hicks High School A-B Honor Roll. Damien is an eighth-grader at the school, and excels in his favorite subject, math, “It’s easy for me to understand, I really like math and my teacher is very good at explaining the lessons.” In the LJHSRA, Damien competes in chute dogging, and as a header, with team roping partner, Bradon Hinton.
Living in Leesville, Louisiana with his parents, Courtney and Chris Foster, Damien enjoys time with his siblings; sisters Rylee, 15, and Cryslen, 14, and brother, Christen, 11. “Rylee is really funny and makes me laugh, I like riding horses with Cryslen and can tell her anything, and I like playing basketball with my little brother.” Courtney works in sales for D & B Oil Company, and Chris works on an oil rig. The family has an arena at home and are often found practicing there. Cryslen is also an LJHSRA member and competes as a barrel racer and goat tyer. “Damien is very humble and has adjusted from being an only child to being in a big, beautifully blended family with ease, since Chris and I got together 5 years ago. When he picked up a rope, it was evident he had a God-given talent. We believe if he continues to work hard there would be no limits to his rodeo career,” says Courtney.
Chris, a team roper himself, has been instrumental in helping Damien get his start in team roping, along with Egan Harper, the older brother of Connor Harper, who was Damien’s team roping partner last year. Connor and Damien had a successful 2018 LJHSRA state finals, winning two of the three rounds and earned their way to the NHSFR competition in Huron, South Dakota. The best friends switched team roping partners this season, when Connor moved on to high school rodeo competition. Damien is happy with how he and his new team roping partner have been performing this year and is looking forward to the remainder of the season. Trying chute dogging this year has been fun for Damien, although he doesn’t see himself progressing on to steer wrestling in the future. He is grateful to family friend, Gary Green, and his mom and dad, for helping him with the techniques needed for his new event.
“I really like the LJHSRA, it’s fun to be there at the rodeos; I always feel comfortable and I know people there, so I don’t get worried. I know I have people that will help if I need it.” Often, Damien wears his favorite, brown, western print shirt to the rodeos because he feels lucky when he has it on. Before he backs into the box, he tries to remind himself to just stay calm, and rope.
At home, Damien helps care for the family’s roping steers and his special grey gelding, Axle. He’s owned the 18-year-old head horse for 5 years, “Axle does great under pressure and he is so consistent. He’s really funny too, he likes to eat my food. His favorite thing to eat is crispidos, which are like a rolled taco filled with chicken and cheese.” When he’s not spending time with Axle or practicing for rodeos, Damien also enjoys taking care of his Australian Shepherd puppy, Ruby, and their mixed-breed dog, Weenus. For fun, the family often rides four-wheelers, and likes to go deer hunting in Texas. Damien also has been a member of 4-H for several years and participates in demonstration days as well as showing livestock. At just 13, Damien hasn’t completely zoned in on what he will do with his future, but he likes all the suggestions that family and friends make and plans to consider all his options. However, he does know that he will still want roping to be a part of his life.