Fort Worth Convention and visitors Bureau Blog

Lisa Langston: Woman Worth Meeting

Fort Worth ISD Director of Athletics Dr. Lisa Langston embraced sports when she discovered her future wouldn’t lie in the performing arts. “I went out for track as a fourth-grader when I was not selected for the Sound of Music. I realized, first, that I could not sing, but most importantly, I enjoyed playing sports and was pretty good. As a seventh-grader, I realized that I had the potential to earn an athletic scholarship,” she told us via email. “I did earn an athletic scholarship.” The university she began attending in 1983, Texas A&M, had only admitted female students for 20 years at that point. She played basketball for four years, but didn’t stop her athletic achievements there. “After my fourth year after basketball, I went out and ran track that spring. So that was my first outdoor season. And then my fifth year of college. I actually ran my fifth year as a graduate student,” she explained. In all, Lisa ran two seasons outdoors and one indoors, competing in the 100-meter hurdles, and the sprint relay. The women’s basketball team had existed since 1974, with the sport only coming under the auspices of the NCAA the year before Lisa enrolled. She credits a signature piece of legislation with paving the way for her and others. “Title IX was essential in giving girls and women more athletic opportunities. Title IX, as a law, is an accountability system that cannot be overlooked.” The early-1970s law effectively required educational institutions receiving government funds to ensure female students could engage in athletic pursuits just as their male counterparts had for decades. Lisa believes it has had a positive impact. “Today more people understand the significance and what aspects of athletic programming are required to comply with the law. Female student-athletes, especially at the collegiate level, are enjoying better facilities, better nutrition, better housing than even before - all because of Title IX.” The Texas A&M women’s basketball program has become one of the best in the country. The Aggies won a national championship in 2011. They’ve made progress on the court and off since Langston’s playing days. “I was just back at A&M this past January for women's basketball reunions, and you look at the facilities compared to what we had back in the day, it is as different as day and night,” Lisa noted. “Our locker room for basketball, it had been the visiting team’s locker room because A&M, being an all-men's university at first then adding in women's sports, they had to renovate what they had. Lisa still ranks in A&M’s all-time top ten in both scoring and steals, even as the program has attained national prominence. One of the head coaches who helped her achieve that success had a lasting influence on her. “I flourished under her guidance. As an athletic administrator herself, she was an excellent role model and I learned what leadership looked like from her,” Lisa said of former Aggie Senior Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Lynn Hickey. “She helped me to see that I had value beyond a basketball court. It changed the trajectory of my life. I even had a better basketball season because of it. She gave me some advice, basically, that I would have opportunities in life. But I needed to be prepared.“ After college, Lisa played professional basketball for two seasons in Germany and one in Spain. “It was a life-changing experience,” she said. “I learned how to be sensitive to other people who were different than me, because I was a foreigner. And so I know how that felt.” Competition itself also shaped Lisa’s outlook as well. “Sports taught me how to work as a team for the good of the group. Sports taught me how to set goals. I learned confidence. I learned I could persevere through adversity and difficulties. Sports taught me that I could make a difference in someone else's life.”…

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Stacy Martin: Woman Worth Meeting

Stacy Martin believes participating in sport paved the way for her success, and not just because she works in the sports industry today. “I truly believe that sports teaches you the best lessons you can learn in life; dedication, hard work, patience, physical and emotional strength, mental…

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Noël Couch: Woman Worth Meeting

When she joins the nation’s elite collegiate artistic gymnasts in Fort Worth this week for the National Collegiate Women's Gymnastics Championship, Noël Couch will have a unique perspective on what it took for them to get here. Noël made trips to Cleveland, Ohio; Duluth, Georgia; and Los Angeles, California when she was their age to compete in this same event. The former Georgia Gymdog can now add the experience of event organizer to that of event participant. “I continue to share my passion with the sports community serving as the Assistant Director of Championships and Alliances at the NCAA,” she told us via email. “I am honored to serve as an advocate and leader for the incredible ladies competing in the Women's Gymnastics Championship.” She earned All-American honors five times in her final three seasons at Georgia, including on the vault in 2011 and 2012, the floor exercise in 2011 and 2013, and the all-around in 2011. Noël also collected the program’s Scholar-Athlete Award in 2013 as a senior, adding it to multiple other academic honors including three years each on the Scholastic All-America Team and the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll. She continued her academic pursuits at Georgia and earned a J.D. with honors from the campus law school. She worked for a law firm and Sacred Heart University before joining the NCAA in January to oversee women’s gymnastics and lacrosse championship events. Her experience serves as an example of the positive effect sports can have on athletes like the ones for whom she now facilitates competitions. “Not a day goes by that I don't apply the lessons learned during my athletics career,” she said. “Gymnastics has taught me loyalty, integrity, and resilience.” Noël got an early start on forming those qualities as she hit the gym for the first time when she was two-and-a-half years old. “At a young age, I developed a love of gymnastics and throughout my career I learned the importance of complementing my athletic talent with academic excellence, community service, and a commitment to my faith.”…

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Jasna Rather: Woman Worth Meeting

Though she came of age in her sport in the 1980s, Jasna Rather didn’t owe her opportunities to Title IX. Born in a country then known as Yugoslavia, the former Jasna Fazlić worked through the club sport system in place there. Though boys had more opportunities, top female athletes could stay…

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Lisa Bowerman: Woman Worth Meeting

“Getting to work in college athletics means that I get to wake up every day excited about what's to come,” Lisa Bowerman told us. Lisa coaches the Texas Woman's University NCAA Women's Gymnastics team. Her program is the only NCAA team in the state of Texas, competing at the Division II level. As a…

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Erica Holmes: Woman Worth Meeting

As a child in North Carolina, Erica Holmes found her passion: sports. Today, she is responsible for helping run the American Athletic Conference Men's and Women's basketball tournament, which was recently contested in Fort Worth “My first love in life was sports. I played every sport growing up and…

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Jennifer Garrison: Woman Worth Meeting

In December, Jennifer Garrison made the sort of history Title IX legislation was intended to encourage. TCU had decided to start a women’s triathlon program and named Garrison its first coach. The Horned Frogs became only the second Power 5 athletic department to add what the NCAA has designated an…

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Heidi Swartz: Woman Worth Meeting

The sport that became Heidi Swartz’s profession wasn’t one in which she participated in her youth. “I participated in gymnastics, ice skating, and golf growing up. However, it was not until I was an adult that I got involved in running,” she emailed. “I started running after I started working for…

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Spotlight: Rikki Kelly of Ego Tequila

At 26, Fort Worthian Rikki Kelly is already a force to be reckoned with. She's not at all what you might imagine an enterprising tequila proprietor would look like, in fact she’s just the opposite. Kelly is a young, Black woman educated as an accountant turned tequila entrepreneur. “I am actually a…

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