I’ve often asked myself, “What is the best stage in life? Is it when you’re a teenager? College graduate? Young mother? Retiree?
Each time I’ve pondered on whether or not life was at a pinnacle, I’ve ultimately decided that NOW is always the best. The HERE and NOW. And there are people out there proving my “Here and Now” mantra every day. They live their lives to the fullest; never taking for granted that the “best is yet to come”. They achieve, take time to celebrate success, and then position themselves to achieve again; sometimes in very diverse areas. Teri Stamper is one such individual; and I’d like to share her story with those of you who may be thinking that the best has come and gone; or that it’s too late for the best; or that the best will never come. Believe me, Teri proves that none of these theories in life are true! The best is yet to come; and in Teri’s positive words, “If I can do it, anybody can!”
Teri’s story of achievements and successes have evolved despite challenges, disadvantages, times of sorrow, and times when she had to take a “backseat” to allow others in her life to achieve and succeed.
In 1981, despite not having the advantage of coming from a “rodeo” family, she started to teach herself to rope by practicing on a bucket. She took her then barrel horse and entered the Breakaway Roping at the Cavalcade Rodeo in Pawhuska, Oklahoma – and won it!
In 1983, she earned the title of Miss Rodeo Oklahoma, and only weeks prior to the Miss Rodeo America pageant at the last NFR to be held in Oklahoma City, she broke her arm. However, this injury didn’t stop Teri from finishing 3rd Runner-up in the prestigious contest.
She attended and graduated from Northeastern State University with a Masters in Education, all while competing and attending rodeos as Rodeo Royalty. She said that she always had a desire to rope, but never felt competitive enough to actually enter. And, back then, women were more of an anomaly as team ropers. It was a challenge to get in on a practice session with the guys. She said she just had to jump in there and not be shy. In 1984, she married Tom Stamper and he has always stood by her, encouraging her to rope and compete. Together, they have raised four children: Molly, Pake, Brittany, and Sam; all of whom rope.
It was hard for her to compete during the kids’ younger years; as Teri held down a job teaching and was involved with their school activities and Tom’s competitive roping. She stated that although it’s not for the weak at heart, she wouldn’t trade the rodeo and western lifestyle for anything. Through the years their family has roped and traveled together, many a mile. In fact, the sport of Team Roping is also shared by numerous nephews, two brother-in-laws, and her father-in-law. The drive-time, practice-time, and competitions have been instrumental in making them more of a close-knit family. And the Stamper family’s hard work has paid off! In 2007, Molly (Header) and Pake (Heeler) were 1st Runner-up Oklahoma State High School Team Roping Champions; Molly and her uncle Jody won $28,000 in Oklahoma City; Brittany won a pickup; Pake has won a horse trailer; Teri has also won a pickup herself; Tom has won numerous ropings, including the prestigious Bushyhead Pasture Roping with his brother Jody; and Sam is on a rodeo scholarship at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he is studying Ag Business. And last, but certainly not least, Teri and her youngest son Sam won 2nd in the #9 Roping at the World Series Team Roping Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada in December of 2016. The mother-son duo won a whopping $213,000 together!
”A win like this would be great with anyone, but to have won this with my mom was truly special. Couldn’t be more blessed! Thankful for all the friends and family that have supported us! Mom and I split $213,000!” – Sam Stamper
Success hasn’t always come easy. There have been times of trial and sorrow. In 1990, after purchasing a horse who seemed to be the perfect “fit” for Teri as a Head Horse, the horse died of colic. She said that she laid down with him in his stall and nearly died with him that night. In 2007, after a lengthy battle, she lost her mom to lung cancer. Teri took time off of roping while she served as her mother’s Caretaker, a role that she felt honored to fulfill.
In December of 2014, while competing at a roping at the TRV Ranch Arena, Teri lost her right thumb. She said she knew right away that the thumb was detached. She didn’t have to look at it. However, when she did, it was quite a sight. “I don’t know if it was my educational background in Science, or what; but I was not bothered, but rather curious, by how it looked.” , stated Teri. She went on to explain that the thumb had not been cut off, but badly smashed and jerked off. The white tendon had been pulled out of her arm from the elbow, and when she took her roping glove off, was dangling from the glove with the thumb at the end of it. She was taken into the hospital, where doctors were unable to reattach it. When the doctor gave she and her husband the bad news and then left the room, Tom looked at it, picked it up, and dumped it in the trash! She knew it was supposed to go into a biohazard tub, but wasn’t about to dig it back out of the trash, so they left it and figured the janitor got quite a scare later!
“I guess I’m done roping”, she thought to herself. But upon further contemplation, Teri decided that there were plenty of ropers out there without their thumbs, and if they could do it, she could too! So she set out to change her technique and learned to hold the loop in her first two fingers. She was back in the practice pen within 4 weeks and once again competing within 4 months. She had entered a jackpot roping at a small, indoor arena. She said that she was struggling, and feeling quite frustrated; when a young teen-aged boy approached her and said how sorry he was that she had lost her thumb. He told her that he also had to learn how to rope again, after an accident. It was then that she noticed that he was missing three of his fingers on his roping hand. And he was entered. She said she’s never really looked back after that day. Later on the next year, Teri retired after 20+ years of teaching at OSU IT. She was ready to start the next phase of her life.
Teri really believes that with Denny Gentry’s advent of numbered ropings, he has created opportunity for everyone in the world of Team Roping. And now with the World Series Team Roping (WSTR) Qualifiers and Finale, she says that their barrier rules make it much easier to just get out of the box and rope and not worry so much about multiple factors. And so we come to the best, and rest of the story surrounding Teri and her son’s big win in Vegas as a team:
Only 7 months prior to the Finale, Teri found the “perfect” horse, Ace. She had been searching, and found him just down the road. It took her some work to find the timing and finesse it was going to take to win on Ace, but she found it. And when they clicked, she knew she had something! And being the person that Teri is, she confidently entered the 2016 WSTR Finale once. Just once. No practice runs at one of the many side jackpots going on in town the same week; no fretting over making the long, 20 hour haul for just one shot at the money. She had the horse, she’d put in the time and the work, and she was ready to go and compete and have fun with her son Sam under the big lights in Vegas. And they did enjoy their stay. They went downtown and saw Fremont Street; they visited some of the casinos downtown; and they enjoyed visiting with friends and family who were also there competing. Sam was heeling on his sister Brittany’s horse. They started their first steer with a good time and maintained consistency on through to the short round. I watched the short round from home via live-stream. Tears welled up when I saw Teri and her 21-year-old son Sam take their run around the arena during short round introductions. And when their time in the box came, and they got their solid run in, everyone knew they were in the money. I was so very happy for her and so very inspired. Inspired to look at this stage in my own life differently. Inspired to move ahead to the BEST part of my life: Today, tomorrow, and beyond.
Teri Stamper’s advice to anyone wanting to get involved with roping:
1) Get good instruction.
-Go to wstroping.com for more information-
2) Practice right, and often.
3) Perfect your ground work. Rope the dummy.
4) And remember, “If I can win, anybody can win!” – Teri Stamper