North Texas Daily

Mean Green Village provides home for student athletes

Mean Green Village provides home for student athletes

Mean Green Village provides home for student athletes
September 14
22:16 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@Reecetapout15

For many student-athletes, the struggle of balancing academics and athletics can be overwhelming. This difficulty only gets compounded when they are forced to drive across campus, or even across town in some cases, to practice or attend class.

North Texas thinks it has found a solution.

Since Rick Villarreal took over as Athletic Director in 2001, much of his attention has been on the expansion and growth of Mean Green Village. The concept is simple: give athletes a place they can eat, sleep, study, train and practice in one centralized location.

Mean Green head football coach Dan McCarney said in all his years of coaching, he has never seen a more impressive athletic layout.

“It’s a phenomenal setup,” McCarney said. “All the time I spent in the Big 10, Big 12 and SEC, I never saw anything this convenient, this practical. It’s easy to take something like this for granted, and I tell my players not to. It’s just remarkable.”

Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

Victory Hall Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

Since its inception, Mean Green Village has expanded to more than 12 facilities to assist with student-athlete training and academic tutoring. One of these is Victory Hall, which houses freshman and sophomore student-athletes and is within walking distance from the Mean Green Athletic Center, as well as the practice fields for football.

“It feels like home,” senior quarterback Andrew McNulty said. “That’s probably the biggest thing for most people. I know when I took my tour here, I loved the layout and the idea. You can work out, get a meal and then go right up to your room. It just makes kids feel more comfortable, which is huge.”

For the student-athletes, the perks of the village are not just the convenience it offers in their busy lives, but also the pride knowing they have a part of campus solely for them.
Freshman midfielder Olivia Bagby of the North Texas soccer team said having athletics confined to one area gives many teams a sense of ownership.

“It’s nice having this whole athletic area on one side of campus away from everything else,” Bagby said. “We can come here and have our locker room, our field, our tutors and training room in the same place. It’s great.”

Villarreal said many visiting athletic directors admire the layout of the village and have tried implementing a similar system at their universities.

“When we get athletic directors in here, and it doesn’t matter the size, a lot of them want to look at the village,” Villarreal said. “They’ll say, ‘Wow, this is the kind of concept we need.’”

Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

North Texas Athletic Center Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

One question that remains though is whether or not ostracizing athletics from the rest of the university is beneficial to the overall student body. Villarreal said Mean Green Village was never a matter of separating the athletes from the rest of campus, but rather an issue of time.

“A lot of people want to say, ‘Well, you just want to exclude the athletes from everything else.’ It’s actually not the case at all,” Villarreal said. “It’s a matter of time management and the way to spend their time effectively.”

The Mean Green Village will only continue to grow in the coming years. especially considering the passing of the 2016 UNT budget, which includes the demolition of Fouts Field. The goal remains, according to Villarreal, for every sport at North Texas to be housed and located in the village on the south side of Interstate 35E.

“Track and field of course is coming now, golf will be here soon, and one day the basketball team will be too,” Villarreal said. “It’s all a part of the master plan. That has always been the end goal.”

Featured Image: Mean Green Village Courtesy | North Texas Athletics

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