Today is a day to remember for Mike McHaney, Lufkin High School Audio/Visual/Multimedia teacher. Not only is it his wife’s birthday, but it’s the anniversary of completely committing himself to a healthy lifestyle. On January 23, 2019, Mike McHaney weighed 346 pounds and was not fond of exercise, particularly running. Just one year later, he weighs in at 186 pounds and has a marathon under his belt that he completed this past weekend.
He tells his students, “If you believe you can, you can. Believe and want is a totally different thing.”
Christmas Eve 2019, Mr. McHaney’s father passed away, but before he died he told his son that he wanted him to get healthy and to live a longer life than him. It was about a month later on his wife’s birthday that Mr. McHaney said, “I think I can do this.”
His wife, Amy, committed to cooking all of his meals and even bought him a small fridge to keep in his room at work. For the first four weeks, it was cabbage and sausage and in no time the weight began to drop.
Mr. McHaney said, “You either do or you don’t but just keep doing. I put one foot in front of the other foot until I can’t.”
Mr. McHaney has always had a determination streak, which is apparent from his job adventures. He lived in New York after a couple of years in college with a friend who worked at the Roundabout Theatre. He then moved to Portland, Oregon to get certified to teach film editing. He lived in Los Angeles, worked in Dallas, moved to Houston and even had a gig with the Swamp People in Baton Rouge. If there’s a will, he makes a way.
In the middle of honing his video editing and shooting skills, he managed a restaurant, something his dad always wanted him to do. For those who remember UFO Pizza, Mr. McHaney and his family ran that restaurant for a while giving Lufkin a taste of authentic, homemade pizza pies.
While working in Baton Rouge on the set of the Swamp People, (and by set that would be alligator swamp), Mr. McHaney would do it all.
He said, “I would do so much. Promo work, filming, editing, representation for people on the show. I was in the thick of it.”
Then his wife Amy told him that he should come home. They had kids at home, and she had heard about this new program at Lufkin High School.
The job she was referring to is the Audio/Visual/Multimedia position in the Career & Technical Education Department. Mr. McHaney teaches four classes – AV 1, 2, 3. He also helps the students film the football games as part of LP-TV. His students participate in Skills USA where they have 24 hours to create a film with a group of two students. He has students going to state in Digital Media Production with Business Professionals of America in March. One of his favorite activities is taking the students to the Austin Film Festival.
He said, “It’s more of a writing festival. It does more for our kids than anything because it can help them see how important it is and meet important people. The guy that wrote Star Wars was there.”
Mr. McHaney feels that the festival helps the students realize that they can have a career in film production and make a lot of money doing it.
He said, “My film calling is gone, but it’s fun to see the kids succeed. Some could easily go professional.”
On the side, Mr. McHaney helps with the school’s student BBQ team, loves to travel with his family, and started a “Run for Your Life” group of Lufkin High School employees. His family is very important to him, and he enjoys spending time with them. He has a son, Miller McHaney, that is a junior at Arizona University and is in sports media hoping to get an internship with ESPN. His step-daughter, Ashely Capps, is about to get married, and his youngest, Miley, is in 7th grade at Lufkin Middle School and enjoys participating in the band.
When Mr. McHaney began to lose the weight, he started running and according to him, “running took over.” Along the way, people like Jerri Kay Boyd, Coach Scott Green, Leslie Brimmage, among others prompted him to go farther than he thought he could.
He said, “My goal was to do a half marathon in February in New Orleans. Leslie (Brimmage) said, ‘You have time to do Houston. You passed 13 to 16 miles. You can do a full.’”
He talked to Jerri Kay Boyd, Girls Athletics Director for Lufkin High School, about if it was possible for him to run a marathon. She came back 15 minutes later with a running game plan.
On Sunday, January 19th, among a sea of runners in downtown Houston, Mr. McHaney took his place at the starting line. He ran his first marathon in 4 hours and 30 minutes.
Mr. McHaney was overwhelmed by the support who came to the marathon.
He said, “Mr. Dupre’, Andy, Mr. Odom, family, friends from Boston, his brother-in-law from Florida. Mr. Dupre’ even videoed me crossing the finish line.”
He loves the racing community’s camaraderie. His next goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. For his age group to qualify, a marathon at a sanctioned race must be ran in 3 hours and 40 minutes.
“It’s everybody to the finish line, no matter what. You race against yourself not compete against each other.”
Mr. McHaney, your determination for success in the classroom and in your personal life make you a great example to our students and staff. We wish you the best in your future endeavors and know that your can-do spirit will continue to run your life.