More Than A Hashtag

Jan. 31, 2017

DENTON – Anyone who follows the Mean Green swimming and diving team on social media notices that nearly every post includes #gunsout.

What many don’t know, though, is #gunsout is more than a hashtag. It’s the theme of the season.

“The hashtag is significant because it’s not something the coaches just said to the team and forced them to embrace,” assistant swimming coach Rachel Friel said. “It’s something that the team came together on and worked out. That is what makes it special to the team because others see it as #gunsout, but it’s so much deeper than that.”


It starts with the Spanish word ganas, which translates to want. It reminds the team to continue to want to get better as the season progresses, even when obstacles get in the way.

This season, the want has shined through as many swimmers have set personal best times, and two North Texas records have fallen. Junior Sarah Vaisse claimed the top spot in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:01.38, and newcomer Emmabeth Jensen swam a time of 50.56 in the 100-yard freestyle at the Phill Hansel Invite to overtake the record.

As a mid-major program, North Texas isn’t always seen as a threat to opposing schools. The team, which competes against some of the top competition in the nation, including Power 5 schools, is labeled an underdog, and that fuels a fire for the team.


“As a team, we acknowledge ourselves as underdogs, but that is because teams don’t expect us to win,” senior captain Abbie Imes said. “When we walk onto the deck, we are going to show them who we are. We may be underdogs, but we have everything to prove.”

North Texas went into TCU as the underdog on January 27, but walked out with its second-straight victory over the Big 12 school.


Though the Mean Green swimming and diving team has yet to secure a Conference USA Championship, the team is determined to build on its success over the last few seasons.

“How we placed in conference in the years past is not where we want to be,” Imes added. “We have more potential than that, and when we walk onto the deck we want people to notice us. It doesn’t matter is it’s a dual meet or at conference, we want to be noticed and we’ve done a good job this year in making that happen.”


In order to continue to move the program in the right direction, the team knew it needed a spark, something each person can bring to the team.

“We had a meeting last week with our sport psychology consultant and just spoke about the value we each bring to the team,” Caroline Culpepper said. “I feel like there is more of a spark than there was in the beginning, so we are ready to finish the season out strong.”


The second word, out, doesn’t look like much, but to the 29 women on the team, it is everything.

“We came up with one unbreakable team because we had a tough start to the year,” Culpepper added. “Our head coach left for Nevada, but the captains wanted to enforce the fact that, no matter what happens, we are still one team. We have great coaches today, so it doesn’t matter what happens, we are still one team and we just have to go out and prove to people who we are.”

And Friel stated that team has a positive mindset as it prepares for its last dual meet of the season versus SMU on Feb. 3, before embarking to Atlanta for the C-USA Championship beginning Feb. 22.

“We just had a team meeting about what we want to do in the next meet in order to get the girls where they want to be before conference starts,” Friel explained. “The team is ready to take the next step in conference. Everyone is on the same page and wants to have the best conference possible.”



North Texas Mean Green