Okie Auctioneer Sam Stamper’s Roping and Family Legacy
Sam Stamper, owner/auctioneer at the Checotah Livestock Market, balances work and team roping.

At 25, Sam Stamper stays super busy as the owner/auctioneer at the Checotah Livestock Market in the Steer Wrestling Capital of the World. He ropes as much as his hectic schedule and long list of responsibilities allow, and knows it’d be tough to beat the day he split $213,000 for the reserve championship in the #9 roping at the 2016 World Series of Team Roping Finale in Vegas heeling for his mom. Sam is the youngest of Teri and Tom Stamper’s four kids, who also include Molly, Pake and Brittany and all love to rope. Sam and wife, Zadie McElhaney, got married on June 12, and will make their home in nearby Beggs, Oklahoma.

Sam Stamper and, now wife, Zadie.

Q: So many ropers around the country know the Stamper family. For those who don’t, who else ropes in your family besides you, your parents and your brother and sisters?

A: My grandpa, Zack Stamper, started it all in our family. He was the originator, and all of us roping goes back to Zack, who’s always been known for good horses. A lot of people who rope also know my Uncle Jody, who’s my dad’s brother.

Q: You come from a working family that loves to rope. Your mom, Teri Turnage Stamper, is a former Miss Rodeo Oklahoma who then taught eighth grade for many years before finishing her career in academics teaching biology at Oklahoma State University Okmulgee. Your dad’s a retired Tulsa fireman. What about your brother and sisters?

A: Molly works as a landman for an oil company. Pake’s a jack of all trades, who builds barns and fence, does a lot of welding and trades horses. Brittany’s a veterinarian. We all stay busy with our day jobs, but we try to get together to rope every day Mom and Dad’s arena’s dry. We’ve been a lot of miles together as a family, and we love to rope. We all pride ourselves in riding nice horses, and we sell one every once in awhile, too.

Q: How long have you owned the Checotah Livestock Market, and how’s business?

A: It’s been two years since I took it over, and it’s growing every month. It’s going good.

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Owner/auctioneer Sam Stamper, third from left, with Checotah sale barn regulars Roy and Bill Duvall, left, and Ote Berry, right.
Kendra Santos photo

Q: How long have you been an auctioneer, and did you go to auctioneering school as part of the plan for your current career portfolio?

A: I started auctioneering three years ago. I was mostly self-taught, then went to school and got sharpened up. I started as an auctioneer at the sale barn in Okmulgee, then got a call that the sale barn in Checotah became available.

Q: Checotah is the Steer Wrestling Capital of the World, so brothers Roy and Bill Duvall and Ote Berry are some of the cowboy regulars on sale day. Have you ever bulldogged?

A: I’ve bulldogged a little bit, but not a whole lot. I bought a spot in a steer wrestling school at a benefit auction one time, so I have run a few bulldogging steers. Bulldogging’s a blast. My Uncle Jody roped and bulldogged a bunch. But with all I have going on, I just really don’t have time to do more than rope.

Q: Have you roped all your life?

A: I’ve roped for as long as I can remember, so I couldn’t even tell you how old I was when I started roping.

Q: You won all that money in Vegas heeling for your mom. Have you always heeled?

A: I’m actually mainly a header. I was heeling at the World Series Finale for my mom, just because my heeling number matched up with hers for the #9 (he’s now a 6-plus header and 6 heeler). Heading’s my main deal. I pride myself on good horses, and I recently sold my good head horse to Keven Daniel. I have a young horse that’s ready to go now, so I’m going to get back into it pretty heavy. But I haven’t been traveling a whole lot here lately, because I stay busy at the sale barn. I rope at jackpots. I college rodeoed, and I wanted to rodeo. But I got busy working.

Q: How much does your day job allow you to rope now?

A: I get to rope about four times a week, weather permitting. We live in what they call Green Country, so it rains a lot here.

Having It All: Balancing Roping, Family and Work

Q: Take us back five years to the day you and your mom won $213,000 at the World Series Finale. What stands out about that day when you think back on it now?

A: That’s a lot of money. But the fact that it was with my mother was the most special thing. It’s a buckle I wear every day. I looked at Mom as we were riding in the box to rope our last one and said, “What’d you have for lunch today?” She said, “What?” The music was loud, so the chute boss finally told her what I said. She gave me an “I’m going to kill you” kind of face. But it broke the ice a little. Roping for that much money is a lot of pressure.

Teri Stamper turning one for son Sam in the short round of the #9 roping at the 2016 World Series of Team Roping Finale, where they won $213,000. David Jennings photo

Q: Did you spend the money on anything special, and was your $106,500 half, in fact, life changing?

A: I was an ag business major in college at the time at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, and I bought some cows and 120 acres between Morris and Beggs my senior year. I run some cows there, and that one roping made that all possible.

Q: Did that day’s windfall win result in you roping more or less?

A: It allowed me to rope more. I was college rodeoing, but I did a lot more jackpotting. As the years passed, I got so busy with other business that I roped a lot less.

Q: You won all that money with your mom a couple years after she lost her thumb roping, which makes it even more amazing.

A: Yes, my parents took that amazingly well. The story about my dad tossing my mom’s thumb into the hospital trash can when the doctor told them it was too far gone to reattach is true. 

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