When Paula Young arrived at Baylor as a freshman member of the basketball and softball teams, the facilities for those two sports were … well … putting it nicely … lacking.
Heart O' Texas Coliseum was (and still is) better suited for rodeos than basketball. And the softball field was something that a rec team would consider substandard.
"I played basketball for one year (at Marrs McLean Gym on campus)," Young said. "We played softball where they outfield fence was a chalk line on the grass. The biggest changes I've seen in the 35 years I've been here are the improvement in the facilities."
Since 1988, Baylor basketball has called the Ferrell Center home. The softball, baseball and tennis facilities - part of the Jim and Julie Turner Riverfront Complex - have been built within the last decade.
And as the athletic department's director of operations for the last 10 years, Young's job responsibility includes "anything and everything that happens off the field of play at each of our facilities."
For the last 10 years, Young has been the director of operations for the athletic department. As part of her job descrption, Young assembles visiting team guides for football and other sports. She's also in charge of the game-day operations manuals that are used to help run the sports facilities.
Recently Young oversaw updating the directional signage at Floyd Casey Stadium and the surrounding parking lots.
On football game days, Young is a roaming trouble shooter. She assists staff members in solving any problems that might crop up.
"I also visit our Letterwinners lounge to see old friends and former Baylor Bears," said Young, who adds that she's just a small part of the wheel during football games. "That's really the best part of the job."
Considering Baylor's colors are green and gold, it's appropriate and environmentally conscious that the school has an aggressive recycling program. Football games at Floyd Casey Stadium can produce about 13 million tons of trash. Among Young's many responsibilities is coordinating the recycling program.
"We make sure we've got all the receptacles distributed around the stadium and in the parking lots," she said. "This year, with the larger crowds, the amount of trash has increased and our recycling has increased also. We have volunteers come in on game day to help educate about how to recycle. It's a campus-wide initiative to emphasize recycling."
Young has observed the athletic facilities improve during her three-plus decades at Baylor. Now, with this season's success in football along with the success in men's and women's basketball plus numerous other sports, Baylor's administrators are enjoying winning.
"It's an exciting time around here," Young said. "It's always great to come to work here but when the teams are winning like they are everybody's enthusiasm is at a high level."
A native of West, Texas, Young arrived on campus in 1976 as a student-athlete, playing basketball and softball. She had two stints as the softball coach and was also the women's golf coach.
Seeking a break from traveling as the softball coach, Young took an opportunity to move into the administrative side in 2000.
"After coaching for 20 years, I wanted to spend more time at home," she said. "I understand what the coaches need and want. When I was the softball coach, I was also the field maintenance person. Now we've got people doing that for the coaches.
"I was really fortunate to be able to stay at Baylor. This is home."