Former UT Player, NFL Athlete and Green Beret Nate Boyer Starts Community for Vets and Players
From the Gridiron to a Greater Mission
By Liz Harroun
Photos by Nicolas Restrepo & Liz Harroun
In April, Merging Vets and Players and Austin Fitness Community hosted an event at East Austin Athletic Club. The collective invited the Austin community to an open gym party, where guests exercised and learned more about the organizations.
Seeking Community Post-Military and NFL
Merging Vets and Players (MVP) was founded by Nate Boyer, a former University of Texas at Austin football player. He is also a former Green Beret and played for the Seattle Seahawks.
After his military and professional football careers ended, Nate found himself without the tight-knit communities he’d leaned on for most of his adult life.
“I went from having two different locker rooms and uniforms that I identified with — families away from my own that understood me in a different way,” says Boyer. “I spent a lot of time with them.”
“There was such a structure, mission and purpose to my life,” he continues. “Going to having none of those things, I felt a little bit lost.”
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Finding Purpose and Brotherhood
In his thirties, Boyer still had a lot of energy and passion. He wanted to help others struggling with similar issues.
Jay Glazer, a sports reporter who worked with NFL players and MMA fighters, encouraged Boyer to help others dealing with similar emotions after retirement.
“I was afraid of comparing those two things because war and sports are super different,” Boyer recalls. “[Glazer] reminded me that we’re not comparing what guys did on the field. We’re talking about brotherhood.”
“Whether you’re a retired athlete or veteran, it’s a similar feeling to being pretty young and feeling like you’ve peaked in your profession,” explains Boyer. “Like you’ll never be great again.”
A New Team for Vets and Players
The duo co-founded MVP in 2015. The objective was to connect combat veterans and former professional athletes after the uniform hanging up the uniform.
Through community workouts and events, they provide veterans and athletes with a new team to assist with the life transition and personal development.
“There are many people getting out of sports and the military that come into this new place very excited,” Boyer explains.
“But maybe they don’t have a group of people that they feel like they can connect with on a different level.”
MVP’s Next Stop: Austin
MVP has eight chapters nationwide, with the goal to open a chapter in Austin this year.
Many professional athletes gravitate toward Austin because it’s a fit, active city. With Fort Hood and San Antonio’s military bases nearby, there are also numerous veterans in the area.
Due to MVP going virtual during the pandemic and expanding membership eligibility to any location, the organization already has members in Austin.
“The way Austin has grown is good for what we’re trying to do with MVP,” Boyer says.
Austin Fitness Community Backs MVP
Josh Job, founder of Austin Fitness Community, is helping MVP organize local events. Job introduced MVP to the East Austin Athletic Club at the open gym event.
The event included appearances from a variety of well-known supporters, including Dakota Meyer, former U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor recipient, and Slade Heathcott, former professional baseball outfielder. Former NFL player Roberto Garza and influencer Alex Moe also participated in the event.
Attendees enjoyed complimentary food and beverages, along with access to an open gym for group workouts.
Be on the lookout for additional community pop-up events and an upcoming Merging Vets and Players chapter making its way to Austin soon.