Canceled Scholarship Banquet does not stop Demons’ thankfulness

Normally, select Northwestern State student-athletes would be able to express personally their thanks to those responsible for the athletic department’s 58 permanently endowed athletic scholarships.

Like many events in the spring of 2020, the annual Northwestern State University Foundation and Demons Unlimited Foundation Scholarship Banquet, originally scheduled for April 2, was canceled because of the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

What has not stopped is the appreciation Demon and Lady Demon student-athletes have for those who help pave the financial way for them to compete in their chosen sport. Befitting a time where most Americans are working from home and holding virtual meetings, Northwestern State student-athletes took to showcasing their gratitude to donors via video.

“Thank you, Mr. (Glenn) Talbert for the scholarship and for all the donations you’ve made to Northwestern State,” football tight end Aaron Howell said via video. “It makes my dreams come true. I’m from here (in Natchitoches), and I’ve always wanted to play here. To do it for free is a blessing.”

That gratitude extended to Demons who have come from outside of Natchitoches as well.

“I wanted to say thank you again for donating money for people like me to give people like me a chance,” said junior offensive lineman Jakob Sell, the recipient of the John and Angelina Manno Scholarship. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without people like you with such great hearts.”

The annual banquet is a chance for student-athletes to meet with the benefactors of their scholarships and develop a relationship with one another.

As much as the student-athletes gain from the interaction, the donors glean a similar amount of happiness and kinship from the event, developing relationships that transcend generations and cultures.

“I was disappointed the Scholarship Banquet had to be cancelled this year,” said Jill Morrison, namesake of the Jill Cantrell Morrison Scholarship. “It’s a great event. Scholarship benefactors get to meet the recipients of their scholarships and know their money is going to a worthy cause. And the recipients see first-hand the funding for their education comes from a real person and is often very personal to the person making the donation. Everybody feels appreciated and grateful. It’s a little bit of magic

“The best part of my Athletic Scholarship is the connection it created with the recipient, Judit Castillo Gargallo. Like many student athletes at NSU, Judit is driven, smart, and grateful for the opportunity to play her sport while she receives an outstanding education. My scholarship allows me to stay connected to my university, and because it is permanently endowed, it also makes me feel good to know that it will always support future Demons.”

To learn more about Demons Unlimited Foundation scholarships, visit

Photo: NSU tennis player Judit Castillo Gargallo poses with donor Jill Morrison at the 2019 NSU Foundation and Demons Unlimited Foundation Scholarship Banquet. Submitted photo