Some of the parents and grandparents watching their boys in the Little League World Series this year have seen a longtime familiar face with them, rooting their team on.
Roy Knight has been out of the Lufkin ISD system for more than four years. But he hasn't let that loosen his grip on the Lufkin community.
Knight and his wife, Janet, took the 23-hour drive from Lufkin and arrived in Williamsport Wednesday night.
"Right after we won the regional, we looked at the flights and decided to drive," Knight said. "I'd never been to Pennsylvania before so we thought we'd get a good look at this part of the country."
Knight is one of the few who came from Williamsport who has no blood ties to any of the players. But he has good reasons for being here.
"The fact that it's Lufkin, Texas, and our boys are here and Janet and I are here to represent all the grandparents who couldn't make it," Knight said.
Knight is also a longtime friend of team Manager Bud Maddux.
"Forty years ago, I would coach during the school year and Bud would take them in the summer," Knight said. "So I have long-standing ties with Bud Maddux."
Knight said through his jobs as a coach, principal and superintendent in Lufkin, he has ties to just about every player on the team.
"And another thing, Lufkin's stepped up to the plate to help these kids and I want to be a part of that," he said.
Knight enjoys watching the team win, but it's not his favorite part of the trip.
"Every team has those administrators they call 'uncles,'" Knight said. "When one of the uncles approached me and talked about how courteous and respectful they've been, it says a lot about our community as a whole."
Knight says it's the blue-collar ethic that fuels Lufkin.
"We have a strong work ethic," he said. "So the parents teach their children to work hard and it carries over. We also value our public schools in our county and our kids couldn't be successful without it."
Knight believes this pedigree of boys is the perfect match for Maddux.
"He's given them two things they value most," Knight said. "He shows how hard work pays off and there are consequences for choices. He instills that every day. You can look out and see kids running up and down hills because they missed a couple signs."
"It's pretty dang rewarding to see our kids excel," he said. "It's a rare characteristic these days among young folks."
These days, Knight spends a lot of time hunting and fishing. He also has five grandchildren to love on. And six months ago, he and his wife decided to buy a fixer-upper.
"So we've been remodeling a house," he said. "It started as a labor of love but a few weeks into it and it's turned into just labor. But that's what we're doing."
Four years after retirement and Knight believes what this team has done is something special.
"I know they want to win it all, but I think already this ranks right up there with that football state championship."
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