story by Michele Toberer Emilee and Bryson Carroll are happy to be carrying on a rodeo tradition passed on to them by their dad, Derek […]
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Meet the Member Gabe Davidson
story by Michele Toberer
Raring to go and ready for rodeo, Gabe Davidson cannot wait to hit the reset button on his rodeo career. The 14-year-old rising freshman hails from Bennington, Kansas, and has been a member of the Kansas Junior High Rodeo Association the past two seasons. However, after dislocating his elbow during a wrestling match, he has had to watch from the sidelines since last February; and his dreams of hitting the spring season hard so that he could qualify for KJHSRA state finals this year dissolved once the remainder of the rodeo season canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With a positive attitude, Gabe looks forward to joining the high school ranks of the KHSRA next season.
Gabe is a first-generation cowboy who started out riding western pleasure horses when he was in 5th grade. His mom, Amy Stevens, noticed his lackluster attitude towards the event and asked him what he thought he’d be more interested in, “He told me he loved the PBR and wanted to ride bulls. I love the PBR as well and could see how much passion he had for trying it, so we sold his horse and jumped in.” Gabe’s friend from school that rode bulls, Gus Westbrook, and his dad Chad Westbrook helped Gabe get started riding. Amy saw that he was a natural from his first attempt. As a 7th grader, Gabe competed in the KJHSRA as a bareback steer rider and bull rider.
Prior to his elbow injury last season, Gabe was sitting in 3rd place in bareback steers and 2nd place in bull riding. Gabe was also riding in a local bull riding winter series prior to his injury and was set to win the finals. Gabe and his KHSRA friend, Rhett Robbins were tied before the series finals, but after Rhett won the buckle and Gabe couldn’t compete, he gave the champion buckle to Gabe. “I really appreciate that Rhett is such a good friend, and he’s helped me so much with my riding. I look forward to riding bulls with him in KHSRA next year, he’ll be a sophomore and I’ll be a freshman.” Not getting to finish his first season with the KJHSRA was a disappointment, but with his elbow having two screws and a washer to hold things together, a full recovery was especially important to his future riding plans. And with a nation full of junior high rodeo athletes sharing the same disappointment in the way their 2020 season has finished, all they and Gabe can do is look to the future, which will surely be brighter.
Gabe has completed all of his studies with Bennington Junior High School with a 3.5 GPA for his final semester, finished through an online program. He enjoyed the flexibility that the online studies gave him when the traditional classroom setting had to be closed due to the pandemic, but he definitely missed his regular science classes. Gabe also played basketball and football for the Bennington Bulldogs, and wrestled prior to his injury. His favorite hobbies are hunting and fishing when he has the time.
Gabe loves riding bulls but has also enjoyed riding bareback steers in the KJHSRA; and looks forward to getting on bareback horses in high school. “Tanner Ray has helped me with bareback riding, and it is really fun. Because I’m on the taller side, I think that event is a good fit for me.” Gabe is hopeful to get a college scholarship so that he can college rodeo and would ultimately like to become a game warden or work in law enforcement.
Gabe appreciates the support of his mom Amy, a children’s book author, and his dad, Brian Davidson, who owns a construction company; as well as his 18-year-old brother Keelan Aita, who is currently deciding between college offers as a track runner. Amy scoured the internet recently to find a replacement for Gabe’s lucky black, blue, and orange plaid Wrangler shirt he wore for three years, and although she found it in a larger size, his grandma was able to alter it so he can continue riding in confident style.
“I’m grateful to the KJHSRA, they’ve all been so helpful and supportive. I just can’t wait to start next season.”