I’m Betty Courtney Donaldson and my story begins in Wellington, Texas, a small town on the eastern side of the Texas Panhandle near the Red River. Wellington was an interesting and wonderful area for a very active kid to grow up. My family was an average middle class family, with both parents in the home and three children. My older brother was a great creator of fun games and activities and my sister was, for sure, the perfect sister and always had many friends. Being the youngest had several benefits, as my parents were ready to relax by the time I came along. This offered me the freedom to be a very active teenager and busily involved in many activities in Wellington. Needless to say, I loved our little community, school, and all of the youth activities offered by the church and school. It was easy for me to decide athletics was the perfect outlet for me as I received great positive reinforcement from sports and all school activities.
Our high school basketball coach, Coach Staphengen, was a great advocate for me and he actually suggested I go to Wayland and tryout for the Queens. I felt very fortunate to be selected to receive a basketball scholarship. That summer (1965), upon the recommendation of Coach Dean Weese, I got to play in the Texas All-Star Game in Midway Waco. The experience boosted my confidence in my abilities and provided a foundation for a great experience on the Flying Queens.
Upon arrival at Wayland, I was startled to find out I could not wear jeans or shorts outside the dorm. That was a bit of a put-off in that I did not realize Wayland had such rigid rules. But I quickly realized that teammates and friendships were far more important than rules. I began to enjoy the environment and realized Wayland was a great fit for me.
While attending Wayland I developed several deeply held personal convictions regarding “calculated risk taking” and “never, ever giving up.” These traits have served me well throughout my life, both professionally and personally. During my college days I met my future husband Larry Donaldson and we decided to marry between my sophomore and junior year. In fact, following an international trip to Mexico City in the summer of 1967 to play three exhibition games, the Hutchersons flew me home to get married.
Following the Mexico City trip, I was informed I would not be allowed to play during my junior year as there was concern I wouldn’t be able or ready to play . . . although, I was the leading scorer my sophomore year. I was invited to remain on scholarship and coach the Queen Bees, the Queens’ freshmen team. That was an awesome experience in that, with the addition of some talented high school seniors who Coach Redin was trying to recruit, we participated in the National AAU Tournament in Gallup, New Mexico. The team was sponsored by three Silverton businessmen and competed under the name Silverton TF&R Queen Bees.
After getting married I made a personal commitment to myself to graduate as soon as possible and to go to work. Often we make decisions that form and direct all future decisions and getting married was one such decision. Interestingly, while my professional work has always been important to me, as are my friends and associates, my greatest enjoyment and joy has been the wonderful opportunity to raise our two sons. Joe and Jay each have beautiful wives and families, and continue to richly bless our lives beyond measure.
Looking back over the past many years I recognize that my lifework is a combination of all the experience and opportunities formed while growing up in Wellington, graduating from Wayland, living and working in Wolfforth/Frenship Independent School District (ISD) and then, for the past twenty years, living in beautiful North Texas. All have enriched and formed my life, while bringing me great strength, direction and many rich lifetime experiences.
Some of the professional opportunities that I had in Frenship ISD include: coaching for five years; teaching for ten years; assistant high school principal; principal of Frenship Intermediate and then moving to assistant superintendent. Good fortune provided me the opportunity to be associate superintendent of operations at Allen ISD in the Dallas Metro-Plex before I retired from Texas Public Education. Following that stint I relocated to serve as associate superintendent of operations in Scottsdale Unified School District. Then I returned to North Texas to work for Voyager Expanded Learning as nation-wide vice president of implementation. I worked in most all of the major urban cities in the USA and had many amazing experiences.
My final job opportunity took me back to the place where my college career started – – – Wayland Baptist University. I served for four years (2004-07) as Vice President of Institutional Advancement for the University. It was a most rewarding way to wind-down a rich, enjoyable professional life, intertwined with so many great professional associates and friends.
Today, I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world and I am eternally grateful for all who allowed me these awesome opportunities.
Following my final job with the University I promised my husband, Larry, I would retire at age 60 and return back to our beautiful farm in North Texas. This past year we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and both continue to be healthy and active. I play golf and travel and Larry cowboys. We enjoy spending valuable time with our wonderful children and grandchildren.
Forming the Flying Queens Foundation was an idea conceived in 2013 with the assistance and support of the University and Flying Queens Coach Tory Byrant. We decided there was a true need to get the Queens back flying, at least occasionally, to basketball games. Knowing that most former Flying Queens’ experiences were very similar to mine, I contacted a select group of professional friends, all former Queens to help form a foundation that could raise money for the sole purpose of offering current Queens culturally rich experiences similar to those we all had experienced. The Flying Queens Foundation has been functioning for almost five years and has provided culturally rich travel opportunities for current Queens. The Foundation is dependent on the participation of ALL Queens. Former Queens have unique life experiences that add to our rich history and inspire younger generations. They also have the energy and the know-how to help assure the Queens’ program continues to be unique and special. Current Queens and their coaches work tirelessly to keep the strong tradition of excellent basketball, exceptional character and strong academics. I am extremely grateful for Coach Robertson-Ellis, Flying Queens’ coach since 2013-14, and her seamless work with and support of the Foundation. Working together we hope to sustain this unique program that has benefited us all.
Over the past many years my life has been richly blessed by and with our two sons and their wives and our five grandchildren. Today our family continues to heal from the loss of our oldest grandson on January 1, 2018 a few days shy of his 16th birthday. I am uncertain as to whether you ever get over such as dramatic loss, but I know you need to continue to put one foot in front of the other until joy does return. We gladly accept your thought and prayers as God works in our lives to heal and strengthen us each day. We celebrate our oldest granddaughter who is currently attending Wayland and playing for the Flying Queens. We celebrate our younger grandchildren who are enjoying a variety of school activities. We are thankful for them and for their parents. We celebrate their precious lives and pray for continued health and the future of their families.
Betty Courtney Donaldson
Wayland Grad 1969
Flying Queen Forever!!