story by Lindsay Humphrey Few father son duos have collected more Linderman Awards than Chip and Kyle Whitaker of Chambers, Nebraska. Kyle alone has 10 […]
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Meet the Member Katie Mundorf
story by Lindsay King
Katie Mundorf grew up in rodeo, but she made the choice to pursue basketball on a scholarship to Hastings College. After playing four years – on two national championship teams – this Mullen, Nebraska, native was offered a graduate assistantship with the basketball team. She finished off her bachelor’s degree in K-12 art education with a master’s degree in K-12 special education. “I taught school in Wyoming for a year and then came back to the sandhills to teach in Valentine,” she said. Katie was a high school special education teacher and it came as no surprise that she coached basketball also. Katie married Joe in 2012 and lived almost an hour from the nearest high school. “I decided that if I didn’t have to teach for an income, then we would just ranch. It is what I had always wanted to do.”
Friends long before dating, Katie and Joe essentially grew up together. “We went to school together, but Joe was a few years younger than me. He was friends with my brother, so he was at our house a lot.” The two didn’t connect as a couple until adulthood, and the rest is history. The two now reside within 30 minutes of both of their families, all of whom ranch separately and together. “My parents live and ranch on what was my grandparent’s land and my husband and I lease a place not far from that. Joe’s folks also live and ranch just down the road. We are all pretty connected but still far enough away that we aren’t in everyone’s yard.” Katie’s brother Steven Dent also ranches in the area, when he isn’t on the road competing as a bareback rider in the PRCA.
“Our family has always been pretty competitive, so rodeo was a natural fit. Being horseback as a kid was just part of growing up on a ranch.” In 2014 Katie and Joe welcomed their daughter Abbigail, who is now five. “In 2015 I started to fiddle around with a horse with the idea of Abbigail’s possible future in rodeo, if she chose it. The horse really took to breakaway.” Katie started out at local rodeos and quickly transitioned to jackpots and even bigger events. “I had been out of competition for quite a while. Sure, I coached but I had forgotten what a rush it was to be in the midst of that type of competition.” Each year since then, Katie has increased her rodeo count.
“It takes a long time to season a horse, so I wanted to make sure this one would be solid for Abbigail when she is about eight or so. That’s how this whole thing got started.” Katie also has a three-year-old son named Tru. “They keep everybody busy. My kids are nothing if they aren’t a mess.” Abbigail is going to junior rodeos on Katie’s old high school rope horse who is now 31. “He is her high private. Roany and Abbigail are pretty tight; he takes good care of her.” Rodeo for the Mundorf family is coming full circle.
Before college Katie did a myriad of events, but as an amateur competitor she is focused on breakaway. “The event has really taken off, it is incredibly different than it was 17 years ago. It is exciting for women in the sport right now, not only for us but for the future generations. I think of my own kids when I think about that.” Getting back into the sport after a 15-year hiatus, is a roller coaster ride. The muscle memory comes back with time, but the friends never miss a beat. “I have enjoyed connecting with the people in rodeo again. Rodeo is such a unique sport. I compare a lot of things to basketball, which is such a head-to-head combat sport. Most sports you show up, compete to beat the other guy and you never get to know the other team.” Rodeo is a completely different community. “You often travel with the people you are trying to beat, your friends. You learn not to try and beat the other guy, you are just trying to do the best you can on the animal you draw.”