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Summer Series - Q&A with Lisa Langston

June 28, 2013
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

This Q&A is brought to you by the Texas A&M Lettermen's Association

Founded in 1974, the Lettermen’s Association was created to provide a means for former students who won Varsity Letters at Texas A&M to gather from time to time and support the University’s athletic programs. Today the Association is one of the most visible and well-respected organizations in the University System, with active members spanning nearly 70 class years and representing all intercollegiate sports.

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Dr. Lisa Langston '86 was a two-sport standout, a four-year (1983-86) letterwinner in women's basketball under the guidance of Coach Cherri Rapp and Coach Lynn Hickey, and earned two letters (1986-87) in track and field under Charlie Thomas and Ted Nelson as well. She earned first-team All-SWC honors in 1985 and was the first Texas A&M selection as the SWC Player of the Week during the 1984 season.

Off the hardwood and the track, she was a 1986 SWC All-Academic team member, earning her bachelors of science degree with a minor in biology in 1986. Lisa received her master's from Tarleton State in 1998 and her doctorate in 2010 from Texas Women's University.

A native of Dallas, Lisa is currently in her 23rd year with the Fort Worth ISD, 18 of those coming in the athletic department and the last 13 in her current position as an Assistant Athletic Director.

How did the skills you developed as an athlete help you in your current profession?

“As an Assistant AD, one of the job requirements is that you have to be accustomed to making sacrifices for the good of the cause. There are so many things that I’ve gotten from Aggieland and being a student athlete that carries over to this position and it’s probably the reason why I’m in athletics. I really understand the value of learning how to be a part of a team and knowing there are days when you’ll have to lead the team and days when you know you have to take a back seat for the team. As an Assistant AD there are projects that I take the lead on and projects where my colleagues take the lead.  It all goes back to knowing how to be a part of a team and knowing teamwork. It all goes back to my time at Aggieland.

“Coach Lynn Hickey had a rule that if you had a technical foul you couldn’t play anymore, and so the very first game she’s coaching me in, I get a technical. I go to the bench because she takes me out and I’m sitting there with my knee pads still on, waiting for her to put me back in. At this point I’m the leading scorer on the team, and I’m sitting there when it hit me that I’m not going back in. What I got from that was a lot. Coach Hickey needed to win all of her ball games because it was her first year here, but she was willing to sacrifice that ball game for a long-term lesson for the rest of the team. Meaning what you say and saying what you mean--even when it’s a challenging situation--helps me, and I think about that when I have to make hard calls with my job. Always be a person of integrity and that will get you far.”

How would you say the Aggie Network has helped you?

“My second job in Fort Worth, I was hired at one school and the Assistant AD wanted me for another position and it just didn’t work out that first year. The second year that job opened up again and I went in to interview with this new principal. I went in with my little A&M charm on and the principal looked at it and said, ‘Oh, you’re and Aggie!’ and said that they had several on staff. Of course I got the job after that.

“That’s part of the branding thing, the networking and always looking out for your Aggie counterparts.  We have a creed we live by. We don’t lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those that do. We have no issues with recommending an Aggie. Being in as large a school district as I am, it’s amazing the number of Aggies you meet that are not in athletics. You always have a friend out there in the world; you always look out for each other.  Some of it is job related, but a lot of it is personal and you’re never too far away from the University.”

What is one bit of advice you’d offer to young athletes?

“I would say that they need to learn what they can about themselves while they’re going through the process. I surprised myself last year when I was giving my speech at the Burgess Banquet. When I really thought about how much I learned about myself through athletics, that’s when I found out that I know what I’m made of.  Student athletes go through really hard workouts and adversity, and concentrating on finding out what you can get out of it as a person and realizing who you are is the thing that really matters--what kind of teammate are you, are you able to listen to a coach, can you take constructive criticism and go with it, do you always make excuses? I think these are the important parts of being a student athlete.”

Can you tell me about your reaction to being inducted into the Hall of Fame last year?

“People know about the program today, (but) they don’t really know about the program when I played, when we were only playing in front of a crowd of about 100 people. My junior year we had our first non-losing season and then we had a winning season my senior year. The opportunity that you have playing for A&M isn’t about your individual accolades, but the Hall of Fame is about your individual accomplishments. When you’re in a situation where your team is not going to go as far, it’s hard for the individual to get recognition but of course that’s not what you’re playing for.

“I had to find a lot of information on the early ‘80s…we didn’t go to the NCAA tournament, finals, semi-finals or conferences championships, but I think about the sacrifices that we made for the program. To be rewarded for the effort just meant the world to me. My family could see how challenging the whole process was, I got so much out of it that I did not fully understand at the time because with age comes wisdom and that’s what I’ve gained.”

Could you tell me about being a two-sport athlete? Was it difficult?

“My intent was always to play both sports and it just didn’t work out for track my first three years. One reason was the coaching situation, another was that I got the opportunity to try out for the Olympic Team, and then I was injured after my junior year so I wasn’t able to go out then. Finally my senior year I got the opportunity and for me it was interesting to see how the two different programs operated.  It wasn’t necessarily a challenge as much as learning a different type of workout. Working with my track coaches and my basketball coaches gives me some credibility when I speak in my profession.  Being able to help out both programs made me realize what I am about. I enjoy helping people and being able to be a part of the track program helped me be able to help them.

“Everyone talks about my senior year when I won third place at a meet, but no one ever talks about my fifth year when I actually won second in the conference and made it to nationals with both indoors and outdoors. I had some success too, and it was fun. I got to know a different group of people and I think I was more relaxed with track. It was really a positive experience for me.”

What are your thoughts on all of the national track championships?

“I watched the third one at my house, and if anyone had seen me they would have thought I lost my mind! I went berserk. I just think it’s outstanding. Where we came from to where we are today, it is just us building champions. I am so proud to be able to say that I was a part and that’s the importance of the Lettermen’s Association. It’s how we stay connected. Even though the young people competing today don’t know who we are, it’s ok because one day they will be able to look back and see how far the University has come.”

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