Dr. LaTonya Goffney
Lufkin ISD Superintendent

Alex Sheen began an international movement called “Because I Said I Would” based on the premises of simply keeping your word. He spoke at the Lufkin ISD Convocation in August and challenged everyone to choose something they will do and write it down. Making a commitment to yourself to follow through with your promise is huge.

During this time, the Lufkin Little League was striving to make it the World Series. My promise, not only to myself but to a few of the middle school baseball players, was that if the Thundering 13 make it to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, I’ll be there to support … “because I said I would.”

Because I said I would. Seemed simple enough. I put the burden of the promise on the boys. They first had to win, a lot of winning. I watched them in Waco. I saw that they were serious and with every win, my promise got closer and closer to becoming a reality.

In the meantime, I was selected Superintendent of the Year for Region VII. The next step was an interview to be considered for the State Superintendent of the Year. My interview was Friday morning at 8 a.m. in Austin. When I heard that our boys had kept their end of the bargain and were playing in the National Championship the next day, I knew I had to get on a plane somewhere.

With Harvey threatening the coast, I traveled from Austin after my interview, to Lufkin and then to Dallas to catch a flight. I knew I would want to document this history-in-the-making moment, so I brought along the district’s photographer and communications director. I am grateful I did because a picture truly is worth a thousand words. Our photographer perfectly captured the moment and included his photos in The Lufkin News’ Thundering 13 commemorative magazine. (See all the photos here and here and here.)

When we arrived at the airport in Pennsylvania, we still had a three-hour drive. When we pulled up to the baseball field in Williamsport, it was truly magical. You feel like you are a part of something bigger than yourself, a moment in time that will never be erased. I was so proud of the boys, how they conducted themselves and represented our town. I loved being a part of the crowd cheering on Southwest and chanting “USA. USA.” one moment and “LP. LP.” the next. I loved being in the stands with the parents who had to be exhausted but lit up when they saw I had made it. They knew the trip to Williamsport was not an easy one. Watching the boys interact with each other, their coaches, and other players from around the world was my favorite part of the entire trip. They were winners before they ever stepped on that field.

It was such a once-in-a-lifetime trip I knew I could not miss. I was going to be there “because I said I would.” I would like to give a huge thanks to Wayne Haglund (who wanted to remain anonymous) for helping me to keep my word. Haglund Law Firm sponsored the trip so that I wouldn’t miss out and could capture the trip for those back home. Mr. Haglund couldn’t go, because for those of you who know Mr. Haglund, he’s not going to take off work. He wanted to show his support by making sure I could be there for the boys. Not only that, he wore his Southwest ball cap to the TASA/TASB conference with his suit and tie this past weekend. He’s a huge fan. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I am blessed to work with a supportive board and live in such a loving community. We are so proud of the Thundering 13 who represented us well. Being in the stands that weekend was one of the most exciting memories of my career. I’m so glad that I made that promise that day, because what I was really promising is that no matter what, I will support you on your road to excellence. Congrats to the Thundering 13!

LaTonya Goffney is the superintendent of Lufkin ISD. Her email address is lgoffney@lufkinisd.org. This column originally appeared in The Lufkin News.