story by Ruth Nicolaus Kyle Gardner is doing his darndest to keep team roping alive and well in the Northeast. The Stephentown, New York cowboy, […]
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Meet the Member Danna Gann
story by Ruth Nicolaus
Danna Gann took a leap of faith in 2010, and has never looked back.
That’s the year the American Pro Rodeo Association rodeo secretary quit a secure, full time job to become a full time rodeo secretary, and it’s worked out well.
The year 2010 wasn’t her first year of secretarying, however.
She grew up in Arkansas, the daughter of Hansel and Willie Maude Warren, competing in high school rodeo and the Arkansas Rodeo Association. Her dad was killed when she was nine, but her mom continued rodeoing with Danna and her sister. In high school, Danna was a barrel racer, pole bender, and rode bareback horses and bulls, qualifying for the National High School Finals Rodeo four years in the poles.
She got a job managing a grocery store in Searcy, Arkansas, and continued to rodeo. By then, she had begun secretarying rodeos for the 44 Bar Rodeo Co., owned by Orville and Fay Donaldson. Most of the rodeos were IPRA, and sometimes Danna would run barrels at the rodeos she secretaried.
When her son, Rob, purchased the 44 Bar Rodeo Co., he renamed it the Bar V Rodeo Co. and she secretaried rodeos for him and other stock contractors in a variety of association.
But when Rob’s first wife was killed in 2010 in an ATV accident, Danna changed her perspective. She quit her job at the grocery store the night of her first daughter-in-law’s visitation.
“When my boss came through the line at her visitation, I gave him my two weeks’ notice,” Danna said.
“I figured out that life’s too short to not do what you’re good at and what you enjoy.”
Sam Swearingen, who at the time owned All American Rodeo, had tried to persuade Danna to secretary his rodeos in the northeast. Now she had no reason not to go.
So she added the APRA to her list of affiliations, and she went east.
She also gave up the stability of a regular paycheck. “Believe me, there were times I wondered where my next meal was coming from,” she said. She recently visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York City and she realized her story is similar to the immigrants who came to the U.S. “Those people left everything and took a chance to go someplace new, and I thought, I could almost relate to that. I packed everything and took a chance.”
It was a gamble, and Danna won it. Now she secretaries full time and loves it. She’s worked rodeos in many associations: the APRA, the IPRA, the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association, the Mid-States East, the American Cowboy Rodeo Association, the World Champions Rodeo Alliance, and the Little Britches Rodeo.
The rodeo secretary is a unique position, she believes. As secretary, “I’m the glue that holds it all together. I take care of the contestants, the stock contractors, everyone.”
The rodeo secretary can set the mood for the staff as well. When she first started secretarying, an older woman gave her advice that a secretary had to be unkind, but “that’s the farthest thing from the truth,” she said.
Danna loves everyone she works with. “I love these people,” she said. “They are my children. I take care of them, I baby them. When I go to work for a stock contractor, I’m going to take care of him and make sure I do everything and anything I can to make everybody’s job easier.”
When she’s in the Northeast, she often stays with Wade and Renee Hazlet in Slippery Rock, Penn., and they and their two young children call her “Nanny.” When she’s in Michigan, she stays at Hughston’s Cow Camp in McBain.
“These contestants and stock contractors are family to me,” she said. “I care very much for them. They are my family.”
Throughout her career, she’s secretaried the International Finals Rodeo 16 years, the American Finals Rodeo, and the International Finals Youth Rodeo for 28 years.
Her son, Rob, is married to Kim; they have two daughters: Laynee and Karoline.