Northwestern State supporters have been fulfilling the spirit of the giving season throughout all of 2018 as private gifts have helped complete or initiate several facility projects totaling nearly $800,000 with more improvements either in progress or on the horizon.
The Demons Unlimited Foundation “Victorious” campaign to upgrade NSU athletic facilities was kick started with $600,000 seating upgrade and $900,000 video board projects at Turpin Stadium within the past two years. This fall, the stadium main entrance underwent a $600,000 transformation that featured the addition of larger-than-life banners of 12 NSU football legends. A new road was constructed to assist in traffic flow around the stadium, which received a facelift of new trees near the main home entrance.
Other upgrades in 2018 included a nutrition center for all athletes, end zone hospitality areas at Turpin Stadium, a new interactive touch display data base showcasing NSU’s N-Club Hall of Fame, and resurfacing courts – in purple – at the Jack Fisher Tennis Complex.
NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke cites the timing of the facility enhancements as integral to a wave of momentum that has swept across the NSU campus, highlighted by the highest enrollment (11,081) in the school’s 134-year history. The athletic program is complementing the university momentum. Case in point: the Demon baseball program, during the course of one weekend at the NCAA Corvallis Regionals this past May, generated $4.2 million worth of earned media according to metrics compiled by Meltwater, a company that monitors media output.
“As a department, we live by three core values, and it’s imperative that the first two — academic achievement and personal responsibility — never falter,” said Burke, who led a department with a 78 percent graduation rate that served more than 4,000 hours of community service. “Make no mistake, however, that fulfilling the third core value — competitive success — is also paramount for many reasons.”
The best, however, is yet to come as the crown jewel of the “Victorious” campaign will be a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning annex to the athletic field house. The $3.5 million annex will feature a weight area that spans 11,600 feet. The second phase of the initiative will include the addition of a high-tech rehab center and other sports medicine upgrades.
“The new weight room will rival any training facility not only in our conference, but in the country,” said NSU football coach Brad Laird, who quarterbacked the Demons in the early 1990s.
“We have a lot to sell recruits about NSU but one of our assets has to be quality facilities,” added softball coach Donald Pickett, who completed a decade at NSU last spring.
All 14 NSU sports will benefit from the new strength and conditioning center. In fact, it was the 2018 spring sports season that ignited a positive rush of momentum across the entire NSU athletic program.
Former Demon baseball Academic All-American Bobby Barbier, in just his second year at the helm, guided NSU baseball to its first Southland Conference Tournament title, 36 wins, and a strong showing in NCAA Regional play. The track and field program led by another former Demon athlete, Mike Heimerman, sent a school-record nine athletes to the NCAA Championships in Oregon, where the Demons’ 4×100 meter relay team earned first-team All-America honors while breaking a 36-year-old school record. The Lady Demons’ tennis team advanced to the conference tournament title match for the seventh time this decade.
Barbier now is spearheading a $500,000 privately-funded upgrade to Brown-Stroud Field that includes a new press box, two executive suites, chairbacks across the entire grandstand and new concessions and bathrooms. The renovation is scheduled to finish ahead of the Demons’ home opener against LSU on Feb. 20, a rematch of the NCAA Corvallis Regional matchup in which NSU led into the ninth inning.
Completing projects like the strength and conditioning annex and baseball grandstand project, along with locker rooms for the track and tennis programs that are also on the drawing board, will require unprecedented private support. Burke feels the timing is right.
“A window of opportunity based on the momentum of our university and athletic program is front and center,” Burke said. “It is vital that we — our administration, coaches, staff, former athletes and fans — capitalize at what is perhaps the most dynamic time period in the history of NSU.
“Completing that strength and conditioning annex, along with the sports medicine component, would turn this athletic program on its ear. That’s something that excites us greatly.”
* N-Club Hall of Fame display – ($50,000)
* Turpin Stadium Front Entrance ($640,000)
-75’X25’ banners installed
*Additional Turpin Stadium enhancements over the past two years:
-New video board ($900,000)
-Chair back seats ($600,000)
* Nutrition Center – ($10,000)
* Soccer drainage – ($5,000)
* Carpet (Fieldhouse Offices, Locker Rooms) – ($35,000)
* N-Club “NZone” Tailgate Hospitality Area – ($20,000)
* Baseball Grandstand Project – ($500,000)
* Track: New seating/press box installation ($288,000)
* Track Complex Updates – ($32,000)
* Softball Dugouts – ($20,000)
*Volleyball Locker Room Renovation – (estimated at $25,000)
* Soccer dugouts – (approximately $12,000)
ON THE HORIZON
* Strength and Conditioning Annex – ($3.5M)
* Tennis Locker Room- ($500,00)
* Track Locker Room – ($1M)
CREDIT: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services and NSU Photographic Services