Some people discover their passion early in life. Others, however, stumble upon what sets their soul on fire when they least expect it. Thus is the case with 45-year-old team roper Mel Durrett. After years of visiting Las Vegas to take in the action of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo with his wife Stacy, Durrett stumbled upon the World Series Finale in 2010.
“I just happened to be at the South Point—by accident really—and saw the Finale. It looked like so much fun and I knew I wanted to start roping,” he said.
Out of high school, Durrett joined the military. He worked as an officer for the Navy, doing classified work on a submarine unit for four years. In 1998 he started his own trucking company, Durrett Truckin’. Durrett capitalized on his military ties and a central part of his business today is moving battle tanks for the U.S. Department of Defense.
Up until he discovered the World Series Finale Durrett had been a busy business owner and family man. With his three kids now a little older, he finally had the time and resources to embark on a new hobby—especially when it was something he instantly knew he was so passionate about.
“I’d been going to the NFR for over 20 years,” Durrett said. “When I realized amateurs could compete I thought, ‘Man, I really want to do this.’”
As soon as Durrett returned to Texas he approached his next-door neighbors, Tyler and Robin Senior, knowing they were avid team ropers.
“I went over to their place and visited with Tyler a little bit. I told him what I had in mind and asked him to help me. He said, ‘Sure, come rope!’”
Once he got a taste of the action, Durrett’s competitive drive took over and he’s never looked back. In 2012, he qualified for his first World Series of Team Roping Finale, finishing 12th in the #9 Incentive, held within the Bloomer Trailer #10 Lo-Am Finale. Last year he came back eight high call in the #10 Bloomer Trailer WSTR Finale IX. He and partner, Mo Mundim, Whitesboro, Texas, had won the fast time in rotation six with a time of 7.87, but a slipped leg in the short round moved them to a 37th place finish. Durrett still pocketed $6,000 on the week.
“I believe that anyone can accomplish anything if they work hard enough,” Durrett said. “I have always been competitive, from high school sports, throughout my life and even in business.
“In anything, you only get out of it what you put into it, and it works the same way with team roping. People say there is luck involved, and yes, there is some luck that factors into it. But I believe it has more to do with your hard work and dedication. If you want it bad enough you can achieve your goals. And it’s a goal of mine to be on that wall of fame at the South Point.”