Sep 9, 2022
By Susan Kanode
Travis Graves is headed to his 13th consecutive Wrangler National Finals Rodeo® in December and is qualifying for the 14th time. He joined the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 2002, one year after winning the title at the International Youth Finals Rodeo.
Six years later, he qualified for his first NFR roping with Turtle Powell. He missed 2009 but has been a fixture at every NFR since then. Now roping with Dustin Egusquiza, he’s in the top five in the world standings and in contention for his first gold buckle.
Roping is a family affair for Travis. He travels with his wife Tamika and their two children, Tee and True who are 10 and 8 respectively. The kids have been in public school so that changed their travel plans a bit. They love going and being part of their dad’s life so much that this year they have changed to a home school program and are making the most of learning experiences on the road.
Travis grew up near Jay, Oklahoma in a ranching environment with a father that trained horses. A rope in a hand and knowing how to use it has been passed down for generations. When Travis was young they hosted some clinics with world champion Walt Woodard. Travis learned a lot from those experiences and now puts it to use every day.
One on One with the Wrangler NFR Contestant Travis Graves
Favorite movie: My favorite movie would probably be The Cowboys. I’m a big Clay O’Brien Cooper fan. To get to see him as a little boy in that movie is fun, especially with John Wayne. I’m a big John Wayne fan too.
Dogs or cats: Dogs. I have a little poodle cross that goes everywhere with us. Her name is Betty. She’s little bitty, black and white – got her from a rescue and she’s part of the family now.
Favorite dessert: Ice Cream – chocolate Blue Bell is hard to beat.
Favorite card or board game: We don’t play many games now, but as a kid we played Monopoly a lot. We put together puzzles with the kids now. True got a new puzzle the other day and we put it together.
Favorite spectator sport, other than rodeo: Basketball – I’m a big fan of the Phoenix Suns. I like the players on their team.
If you weren’t in rodeo, what would you be doing: I’m not tall enough to play basketball. We have some rental properties, so I would probably expand on that and it would have to include horses. I love horses.
Best childhood memory: Probably one of my first ropings ever I won with my Grandpa. He’s one of the reasons that I started roping. He gave me my first horse and having memories of roping with him is pretty special.
Best thing about being a dad: Before you have kids, everything is about you and your goals. Having kids, none of that really matters anymore. It’s all about them. You want them to have goals. Everything changes from you to them. Being a dad is really special and you never know just how special it is until you have a kid.
Tea or coffee: Tea – Half sweet and half unsweet.
Favorite thing about Las Vegas: I’m not a gambler. I do enough of that on a daily basis, so going to the tables isn’t for me. The NFR is everything for us as cowboys. We really enjoy the Mirage We’ve gone to a couple of shows there. There is plenty to do and great places to eat. We always go get a good steak at least once.
Music: Everything. Country, rock and roll. We’re in the truck so much that I listen to lots of music. Nickleback – I love music. When I’m practicing, I always have the radio on.
Best horse you’ve ever ridden: All of the horses that I’ve ridden have had different qualities that make them special. I’ve learned something from each one of them and they’ve had big influences in my career.
What champion buckle do you wear and why: I wear the American Buckle – I think it’s cool looking and it’s not too big. Won it with Kaleb Driggers – 2015.
What’s your best quality as a heeler: I think being able to catch in pressure situations.
If you could give advice to a young rodeo competitor, what would it be: Get around someone that knows what they are doing – get the best knowledge that you can to help you learn the right fundamentals. Good foundation and it will save them a lot of time.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be: We talk about this all the time. I’ve never been to Hawaii. Probably Oklahoma or Texas. I’m from Oklahoma and live in Texas now so that’s probably where it would be.
What superpower would you like to have: Maybe a shape shifter, then I could have whatever superpower was best at the time.