Weyerhaeuser grant funds improvements at track and field complex

Northwestern State received an $18,000 grant from the Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation to assist in needed renovations at the Walter P. Ledet Track and Field Complex, athletics director Greg Burke announced Thursday.

The complex improvements include repairing worn areas and markings on the track surface and runways for the long and triple jump as well as the javelin runway.

The grant will also aid in installing an LED Track Curb, which is a requirement for hosting meets and serves as a training tool for teams.

The renovations will be complete before NSU will host the Southland Conference Outdoor Championships on May 3-5, which brings 12 men’s and women’s track and field teams along with hundreds of spectators to Natchitoches.

“Without this grant, we wouldn’t have been able to repair the track surfaces and buy the curbing that you need to host a meet like the conference championships,” said head NSU track and field coach Mike Heimerman. “The needed repairs are on areas like the finish line.

“It’s a huge advantage for our men’s and women’s teams to compete at home, and this will have a huge economic impact for Natchitoches with 22 other track teams bringing in close to 600 student-athletes, as well as spectators, over a four-day period.”

The contribution was made to the NSU Demons Unlimited Foundation, the fundraising organization for NSU athletics.

Weyerhaeuser is the largest private landowner in the United States, managing timberlands in the Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coast, Northeast and Pacific Northwest regions.

“Weyerhaeuser is deeply connected and committed to the communities where we operate through our businesses, our employees and the investments we make,” said Peyton Weeks, Weyerhaeuser’s Winnfield Timberlands Area Manager. “The mission of the Weyerhaeuser Giving Fund is to improve the quality of life in communities where Weyerhaeuser has a presence. Go Demons!”

The company strives to fund projects which benefit wellness among other areas within its geographic footprint.

“Heartfelt appreciation is again extended to the Weyerhaeuser Foundation for its continued support of the NSU athletic program and, in particular, its fund raising arm, the Demons Unlimited Foundation,” said NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke, who authored the grant proposal. “The fact that the Weyerhaeuser Foundation is purposeful in distributing funds that will be impactful in areas which will directly benefit its employees, combined with the ability of NSU to assist in meeting those needs, has made for a strong partnership through the years.”

The Walter P. Ledet Track and Field Complex is open to the public and hosts high school events like the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s State Cross Country Meet as well as local, district and regional track meets. Other community events include the Central Louisiana Special Olympics, the Southern USA Track and Field Meet and training for local law enforcement agencies.

Weyerhaeuser has funded close to $250,000 in NSU Athletics’ projects that help Northwestern State serve Natchitoches Parish and a 15-parish area as an activities’ hub in rural North and Central Louisiana, improving the quality of life for Louisiana residents.

Pictured: NSU jumps coach Tyron Stewart, NSU cross country coach Chris Sauer, NSU athletics director Greg Burke, Winnfield Timberlands Area Manager Peyton Weeks, Trust Joist Mill Manager Jason Smith, NSU head track and field coach Mike Heimerman, NSU senior sprinter Micah Larkins and NSU associate athletics director for external relations Dr. Haley Taitano.

Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services