Steamboat Springs Just like most weekends in the summer, Steamboat Springs teen-ager Danni Scheer is looking forward to spending this one in the saddle on top of her horse, Newt.
Unlike most summer weekends, however, the 16-year-old cowgirl is getting the chance to pursue the sport of team roping without the long hours packed in the back of her family's pickup truck traveling across the western United States in search of another rodeo.
"I've roped for 20 years," said Danni's dad, Grant. "When these kids were younger, I drug them all over the place. I guess they just finally gave in and decided to start team roping."
The difference this week is that Danni will get a chance to rope at home thanks in part to her father, who is helping to organize Steamboat's first major team roping event.
"I'm sure that I will see a lot of my friends in the stands," Danni said. "Having this one in my backyard is going to be great."
Danni will be one of several top-level ropers competing for top prizes and cash at the Steamboat Springs Team Roping Classic, which will take place at the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena this weekend. Roping will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday and at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Danni will be focused on Saturday night's mixed team roping event, but she will also jump in the saddle and make a few runs in the numbered roping if things go according to plan.
"I think she has a pretty good shot at doing well," Grant said. "She's going to be teamed up with some pretty big names, and they will be expecting her to hold up her half of the deal."
As a member of the Northwest Colorado Rodeo Team, Danni has exploded onto the team-roping scene the past couple of seasons. She picked up the sport when she was 12 and was on the road with her dad by the time she was 14.
"We used to travel around the state with my dad when I was younger," she said. "I watched him rope and eventually started doing it myself. He taught me everything I know."
Dad had a good reason to be proud when the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association named his daughter Rookie of the Year in 2000.
He is hoping the roping event he has created here in Steamboat along with fellow rodeo promoter Brent Romick will turn into a showcase for team ropers from across the state. Danni's goal this weekend is a little more personal.
"I want to win the saddle that goes to the all-around winner in the mixed team roping," Danni said.
To do that, she will borrow her father's team roping partner, Ron Nauta, for a run. She will also take turns at the mixed title with world-class heelers Joe Rodderick and Bret Tonozzi.
"It's going to be tough to win here in Steamboat," Danni said. "There are going to be a lot of good team ropers in town for this one."
The young athlete said team roping is a sport that takes time to master. She said there are not that many ropers out there in her age class and there are even fewer with the talent it takes to win consistently.
"Oh yeah, I'm really proud of her," Grant said. "Roping has always been a big deal in our family."
Danni has already qualified for the state high school rodeo championships and will compete in both team roping and breakaway roping. At the high school level, the girl ropers are forced to compete against the guys on a weekly basis.
But for a cowgirl like Danni, it's just another weekend in the saddle no matter whom you're going up against in the arena.