When discussing sustained runs of tremendous success in Northwestern State athletic history, the last quarter-century of Demon baseball is at the forefront of any conversation.
While the long list of Southland Conference championships and remarkable accomplishments will live on in the NSU record books, one of the players involved is stepping forward to invest in the program’s future, and is challenging other baseball alumni to join him.
Will Pearce, an outfielder from 1994-96 who played on two Southland Conference championship teams, has created “The Pearce Demon Dirtbag Scholarship” for NSU baseball.
The endowment is part of the Perpetually Purple endowed giving program operated by the Demons Unlimited Foundation, the 501-c-3 private foundation which supports NSU Athletics. The announcement of Pearce’s scholarship was made by Dr. Haley Taitano, associate athletics director at NSU and executive director of the DUF.
In addition to initiating the scholarship, Pearce is collaborating with another Demon baseball alumnus, first-year head coach Bobby Barbier, to enhance the team’s locker room facility. He is also reaching out to his teammates, emphasizing his graduating class of 1996, to get them involved, and encouraging other former players during the “golden era” of NSU baseball to do the same.
“To not give back, to me, makes that experience all for nothing. It’s our responsibility as alumni to create a better environment for these players today and those coming tomorrow. We need to collectively move the program forward through our support and involvement,” said Pearce, who played for coaches Jim Wells and Dave Van Horn as a Demon when NSU was on a roll of capturing three straight Southland titles (1993, 1994, 1995), getting an at-large bid to the 1994 NCAA Tournament and posting the Demons’ first-ever Division I regional victory at the Stillwater Regional.
Now Pearce, an executive partner for New York Life in Dallas, is contributing to many more wins and accomplishments for the Demons.
As for the unique name of Pearce’s scholarship endowment, he wanted to emphasize values that are essential to championship success. In college baseball, “dirtbags” are scrappy, hustling players who get their uniforms dirty with their extraordinary effort.
“Some guys have to work very hard just to get a decent grade point average, and that approach definitely carries over to how they play baseball. This scholarship is going to reward a grind-it-out player and student who has the respect of his teammates and coaches,” said Pearce.
Pearce also has a $100,000 life insurance policy with NSU Athletics as the beneficiary.
The goal is to grow the endowment, through outright donations or deferred gifts, over the next five years from the current $1.7 million level to over $5 million. So far, gifts have come from former athletes and their families, supporters of the university and most notably, iconic retired president Dr. Randy Webb and his wife, Brenda.
The program is separate from the efforts to supplement the annual budget for the athletics program with donations, corporate partnerships and special fund-raising events.