Mean Green football standout Cyril Lemon will graduate from the University of North Texas in December with a degree in kinesiology, and volleyball's Hanna Forst won't be far behind in getting her's in medical laboratory sciences.
Both student-athletes took different paths to Denton, but on Wednesday Lemon and Forst thanked the folks that made their collegiate experiences possible, and the nearly 300 fans that attended the Mean Green Club Appreciation Night at Apogee Stadium heard how a simple donation can change a life.
"To be honest, I wanted to go to college but I didn't know how I was going to get there," said Lemon, a Lombardi and Outland award nominee as a senior in 2014. "The money wasn't really there after my family left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, and college is expensive. I want to thank the Mean Green Club members for giving me the opportunity to get my education."
Aside from Lemon, no current player in college football has started every game of his career and garnered all-conference awards after each season, and it's the Mean Green Club that makes his endeavors on and off the field possible.
The Mean Green Club raises funds for the nearly 350 student-athletes across 16 North Texas varsity sports. Donations go directly to scholarships, and at this time the Mean Green Club offsets approximately 20 percent of the department's costs - a figure that is on the rise thanks to the generous donations from hundreds of North Texas fans.
“When you look at what these two young people have accomplished, you know that as a Mean Green Club member you were able to help make that happen,” said North Texas director of athletics Rick Villarreal. “Being a Mean Green Club member myself, I know that the money I donated went to help those two young people get an education and make an impact on this University, and that makes me feel incredible. I encourage everybody to look at these two, and understand that they are just a small sample of what we have here at the University of North Texas.”
Forst hails from Lenexa, Kansas, a volleyball-rich suburb of Kansas City, where she attracted national attention for her play at the St. James Academy and with her club Kansas City Power. One national title and a couple of massive seasons later and Forst was on her way to the University of South Carolina with a resume chocked full of accolades.
After a year it was clear South Carolina wasn't for Forst, and a former teammate told her about a school in Denton, Texas that was right up her alley. "Just give it a shot, you'll love it," her friend said.
"The second I got on campus, I knew exactly what she was talking about," said Forst. "I saw people with blue hair and no shoes, and no one judged them. You never know what you're going to find in Denton, and I just thought that was the coolest thing I'd ever seen."
Now entering her senior year, Forst has taken to North Texas and the Denton community like a fish to water. She's a perpetual member of the Dean's List, and a veteran of over 360 career kills with the volleyball team.
Her time at North Texas has helped her fulfill multiple dreams - to play college volleyball at the highest level, and to earn a degree in a field that she is passionate about. In fact, she'll have the same degree as her mentor - her mother.
"I have fallen in love with this University," said Forst. "Denton is one of the best places I've ever been and I don't ever want to leave."
For information on how you can help the Mean Green Club, visit MeanGreenSports.com or call Jessica Hulsebosch at 940-369-8916.