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Traveling the rodeo circuit

Man wearing cowboy hat standing next to a horse at a stable
R.J. Hinkle

Pro roper shares how he’s living a life of meaning.

Although Cole Davison grew up surrounded by horses—his dad was a horse trainer and his mom an equine nutritionist—he didn’t know he’d one day be a successful team roper competing in rodeos across the U.S. and Canada.

Yet that’s exactly what the Stephenville, Texas, Thrivent member is doing today. Davison, 31, travels to about 100 rodeos a year, often with his wife Whitney (a barrel racer) and two daughters: Milli, 9, and Letti, 2.

Did you always want to be a roper?

Growing up, I didn’t have the means to do this. I worked my way through five years of college, earning a general business degree. I love marketing and how detailed it is. I did some rodeoing on the side, but I didn’t fully commit to it until I left college and knew I could make it work financially.

What’s the hardest thing about your job?

It’s the time spent away from my family while traveling. I love family and even though Whitney and the girls can travel with me a lot, I don’t get to see other family members as much as I’d like. There are people who do this until they’re 60, but I’m not going to be that guy because of family.

What’s next in your career?

I want to create a better life for my wife and kids. I love what I’m doing and that I can make a living at it. But what’s next will be more based on family and the time I have with them. Money can’t buy that.

How did you learn about Thrivent?

I met [Thrivent financial advisor] Shane Knoernschild through my wife; Shane married Whitney’s best friend. And we became best friends. He’s one of the most genuine guys I’ve ever met. I didn’t have a lot of money, and I still don’t. We’re young, and we don’t bring in a regular paycheck. Investing is a scary thing for us. But the first thing Shane recommended was a life insurance contract. I got it at 25. It had never crossed my mind before then.

What does it mean to you to live a life of meaning?

My relationship with God is first in everything I do. I am blessed to have family who live the same way. My wife and little girls are important. But I think living a life of meaning also means helping others, especially in my work. If I can help someone not make the same mistakes or bad decisions that I did, it’s a good feeling.

What have been your guiding principles around money decisions?

I have met some great people, including successful businessmen, while roping. I listen to the older people who have made the mistakes, had business failures and then turned around and had great things happen. They are men of faith, and their businesses run off principles from the Bible. Those are my guiding principles. I pray and read the bible every morning and evening. I’ve learned to slow down, pray and listen.

What’s the best piece of financial advice or wisdom you’ve received?

Slow down, pray and think about it before you act. This isn’t just in financial matters but in everyday life.

What’s your earliest memory of money?

I was probably 6 years old and my dad and I entered a roping competition. He paid the entrance fees. We won, and I split my winnings of $280 with him. It was $140 my dad helped me get.

What’s your favorite volunteer activity?

I was able to do a roping school with wounded warriors recently. There’s a community called Warriors and Rodeo. We did a two-day roping school with 30 guys. We hung out with them. We roped a lot. But even more, we talked a lot.

The client’s experience may not be the same as other clients and does not indicate future performance or success.