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Fan club expands
by Rufus Coleman

ONE OF THE BEST WEDDING GIFTS AL WINDER (’88) and his wife, Kimberly (’88), received in 1999 was membership in the Mean Green Club.

“We couldn’t make the first meeting of the club because we were getting married,” Winder says. “So a friend signed us up as a gift.”

Winder says he has always bled green, since the day he walked on to the North Texas football team as a freshman.

“Growing up with my family in Texas, there were two sports: football and spring football,” he says. “I grew up in a UNT family. My father went to school and played football there, and my mother met my father there.”


From left, Harry Miers, Robert Black, Rick Villarreal and Al Winder

Finding fellow fans

Winder followed in his father’s footsteps when he came to UNT. But it wasn’t until he discovered the Mean Green Club that he found fellow North Texas fanatics.

“I remember standing by the water cooler at work as co-workers talked about their alma maters like Texas A&M or UT,” he recalls. “And I was always kind of frustrated that it wasn’t as easy to find other Eagles to talk about UNT.”

Founded in 1997 by Harry Miers (’90) and Robert Black (now a senior business major), the Mean Green Club has eased that frustration. Initially Miers created, a fan reaction web site, as a way to be involved with UNT.

“I don’t have a ton of money to give to the programs, but this web site was a way I could contribute — it’s a matter of pride,” Miers says.

The site offers North Texas sports fans the latest news on UNT athletics as well as opportunities to chat with players online.

Black, who frequented the site as a student and supporter, felt that fans needed a means to meet outside of cyberspace.

“As a North Texas fan, I always felt a real void,” Black says. “I knew there were other North Texas fans in the stands, but there really wasn’t a way to get to know them or meet them — we needed something to bring us together.”

In 1999, the club held its first event.

Since then members have continued to drive in caravans to numerous games, meeting outside university stadiums for barbecues and tailgate parties. They form a noticeable sea of green to support their alma mater.


1994 fanatics

But long before the Mean Green Club, Miers and Black were Eagle fanatics. The year 1994 was pivotal for both.

“In 1994, my dad and I went in on season football tickets,” Miers says. “It was great and we started a family tradition — ’94 was a great year for my North Texas fanaticism.”

Miers continues the tradition by bringing his kids to football and basketball games — with mixed results, he jokes.

“My 4-year-old daughter loves the games, wears a UNT cheerleader outfit and even goes to the court after basketball games to shoot free throws,” he says. “But my 2-year-old son still cries when he sees Scrappy — there’s something about large, yellow beaks, I guess.”

Also in 1994, Black and his college buddies drove to Oklahoma for a UNT-OSU game. UNT lost, but just barely, he says.

“We weren’t sure how we would do, we just wanted to have fun,” Black says. “And UNT did surprisingly well. We fought and proved ourselves to the very end. And I realized that day that UNT could hold its own with the big boys.”


Expanding the cause

Rick Villarreal, UNT’s new athletic director, hopes that the Mean Green Club can serve even more UNT fans.

He has taken on its name for the athletic foundation and is offering memberships with athletic tickets. In the past, members paid a fee to join the club and contribute to the tailgate parties. He says the original club created a foundation and saved the university athletics program some work in reaching out to alumni.

“We’re thankful that the club was there,” Villarreal says. “These radically enthusiastic fans started something new to support the university, and to accomplish the big goals we have ahead of us, we need fans like those on our side.”

This transition for the Mean Green Club is one Black had always envisioned.

“We could never gain the resources to make the Mean Green Club as great as it could be or bring it to as many people as we’d like,” Black says. “I’d always hoped the university would embrace the club and allow it to grow — it’s something we’ve wanted from the beginning.”

The plan isn’t to change what has already been done but to support it by offering more opportunities for alumni to get involved, Villarreal says.

“With so many alumni in the state, I think we can have as strong an athletics program as any other university,” he says. “There’s only one Mean Green in the country, and that makes us unique. We want to make that name something all of our alumni can be proud of.”

Members of the Mean Green Club purchase season tickets and make a donation to the athletics department. They receive special parking, seating and access to hospitality areas. For more information, contact the ticket office at (800) UNT-2366 or (940) 565-2527.



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