How Moving In With Matt Zancanella Changed Team Roper Jr. Dees’ Life

Going to school in Arizona where he had to protect himself every day, Jr. Dees was getting in trouble, fighting and when he was almost out of options, his dad’s old friend Matt Zancanella opened his doors for Dees to turn things around.

“My mom was watching me, she wasn’t doing that great either at the time. My dad was in jail and I just kind of went through a time where I wanted out of it,” he said.

Zancanella, who made the NFR three times as a team roper and earned almost $900,000 in the PRCA, rodeoed with Dees’ father and he recalls a little Jr. Dees running around with a blonde afro, he says he was always talented but a little wild. When he took Dees in, Zancanella says it was a little rocky but he became a really good kid and it’s been fun.

“Zanc, he’d always point me in the right direction, there were times I messed up, but I learned from about 99 percent of them,” Dees said. “I moved in, we started roping and riding, went to school and he’s probably my best friend in the world. He saved my life, if it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t have anything.”

“All my cousins, all my uncles, all my family they’re in trouble, you know, so I was in a stage where there was nothing, I had nothing. I tell people all of the time, it’s so crazy he took me in and did this, because I would be nothing, without the horses, without him.”

It was when he was about 15 or 16-years-old that Dees realized he wanted to make the NFR in team roping and (), he showed his talent quickly by qualifying for the U.S. Team Roping Finals at 17, following that up by making the NFR in 2017 when we was only 19.

“It’s pretty neat to watch a young man start to get responsibilities and have an image he wants to uphold, I see him getting it figured out, it’s been pretty cool watching him grow up,” Zancanella said. “For him to make at 18 or 19, it was like ‘is this really happening?’”

“Just getting to that level is something people a lot of people try to achieve their whole life. I guess the hardest task I’ve ever had to do is make it to the NFR, there’s so many ups and downs. To see him get that done, I hope and pray he gets to do again.”

Dees sits at No. 9 in the PRCA World Standings and is on his way to compete in his second National Finals Rodeo this December.