For Congressman Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, the Bayou City has always been his home anchor. Born in Scotland, he moved with his family to Katy in the late ’80s, where he spent his childhood attending Diane Winborn Elementary, watching Mattress Mack commercials, competing in club soccer with the Albion Hurricanes, and playing pickup football games around his neighborhood.
It was an idyllic childhood. He’d play basketball in their driveway for hours on end (although he admits it never made him any better at the game), and he’d wear his Houston Oilers football gear—complete with helmet—around the house whether it was Halloween or not. A trip to AstroWorld was always a possibility, and the summers were long, although it all was colored by the fact that his mom was fighting cancer.
“Pretty much my entire period growing up in Houston, I knew my mom to be going through cancer treatments,” he says. “I lost her when I was 10.”
A few years after his mother passed away, Crenshaw’s family moved to Ecuador for a year, then back to Sugar Land, and then Crenshaw spent all four years of high school in Colombia. But he never stopped thinking of that suburban enclave as home. Now, Crenshaw and his wife live in the Heights, but he says Katy still is “my oldest of hometowns.”
Can you talk to me about growing up in Katy?
It was like growing up in the suburbs: You ride your bike to your friend’s house. You just show up; you don’t have to plan a whole lot. We used landlines, and we played whatever we had back then—Super Nintendo, I think, was the most advanced video game system that existed at the time.
You spent 10 years in the Navy SEALs. Did you meet anyone as a kid in Katy who inspired you to join?
Actually, there was a guy down the street that moved in, and he was an ex-SEAL. I was familiar with the idea; he wasn’t what pushed me. I think I was too young when I interacted with him. His name’s Buzz. He had a big surfboard, he had cool stories about prior missions—I don’t know what was true and what wasn’t—but it was the first time I could humanize and visualize what a Navy SEAL was.
It’s honestly hard to say if there’s anything else. You could argue sports. Sports for a variety of things. I don’t know any SEALs who never played anything competitively. That sense of competition and drive to always be better than you were yesterday, that’s a deeply SEAL attribute, and it oftentimes stems from playing sports.
You played soccer throughout your childhood and adolescence. What lessons did you learn from it?
Teamwork, social skills, giving and taking. Learning to be agreeable, and also stern. And to stand up for yourself. These are all things you learn from sports. You learn what good leaders look like, too.
What's an issue that you're still passionate about that you learned about growing up here?
We grew up knowing that hurricanes were coming through, and hurricanes are still coming through, as it turns out. One of my priorities has always been flood mitigation, and that we’re prepared when big rains hit.
How has that knowledge impacted your political work with flood mitigation?
You know this is an issue; you’ve always known this is an issue. You’re from Houston; you’re used to this. And I get into politics, and I start to realize that for 50, 70 years, we haven’t really been planning around it very well. It’s going to take some time to refocus on a broad scale and get our infrastructure prepared. And we’re doing that now, I think. It’s always going to take longer than people like it to, but it’s important.
What did you learn growing up in Katy that shaped you as an adult and a politician?
I think just a general love of country. Texas is a patriotic place. We wave American flags on the Fourth of July, we go to parades, we have a sense of community.