Graphic by Brad Welborn/Northwestern State Sports Information
NATCHITOCHES – When Northwestern State’s Demons4Equality task force was formed last June, there was discussion about having at least one student-athlete alumnus on board to help guide the nascent group.
As it turns out, it was a job – or an honor – for a pair of former NSU student-athletes.
Trecey Rew-Hoover, the 2011 NCAA Outdoor discus national champion, and current Kansas City Royals outfielder Nick Heath have been named honorary co-chairs of the Demons4Equality task force, a 12-member group of student-athletes formed in June with the aim of raising awareness around minority issues and expanding voices across the athletic department.
“Engaging Trecey and Nick with the Demons4Equality group is a way to connect the past with the present, and future, of the NSU athletic program. Their experience as NSU student-athletes will provide insight which will inspire and guide today’s student-athletes to be bold and to pave the way for those who will follow them,” said NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke.
Burke noted the Demons4Equality task force made strides in the fall which included establishing goals and objectives for the 2020-21 year and added that, “the timing is now right to connect two former student-athletes who had decorated careers at NSU but more importantly, have been difference makers in their personal and professional lives, with this group. It is exciting to have them on board.”
The group interacts regularly with NSU Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Michael T. Snowden, who arrived at NSU in August and has worked with faculty, staff and students to implement programs and increase awareness as it relates to inclusion and diversity.
Heath has been one of the most visible and vocal members of the Royals organization when it comes to the fight for equality and social justice.
A three-year letterman at Northwestern State from 2014-16, Heath left campus as the program’s single-season stolen base leader and third in career stolen bases. He made his major league debut July 30, 2020, becoming the first position player from Northwestern State to play in the major leagues.
“For a while, it had me beaming,” Heath said of receiving the call from Burke to co-chair the group. “That was a really cool phone call to get. I was really excited. It had me fired up to participate and to do what I can do to help. I’m excited to get it going and see if we can make some headway, make some change with people I went to school with.”
In addition to her national championship, Rew-Hoover competed in two U.S. Olympic Trials (2010, 2016) and left as the school record-holder in the shot put (57-0.25) and discus (192-4).
She currently coaches the throwers at Heritage High School in Frisco, Texas, and sees her involvement with the group as another way to reach out to the younger generation.
“I am so excited to help NSU students find and use their voices,” Rew-Hoover said. “What’s happening in the world is happening to student-athletes away from campus and on campus, whether we realize it or not. Athletes need a space within their NSU world to be able to voice their concerns without fear of consequence. As someone who is currently doing the same work in my professional career, I am honored to be a part of this with these athletes.”
The addition of Heath and Rew-Hoover to the task force should prove mutually beneficial for them and the 12 current NSU student-athletes.
“I feel like, at the end of the day, anybody can make progress for a group of people,” said junior softball infielder and task force co-chair Cayla Jones. “Mrs. Trecey and Nick have been monumental in setting the standard for African-American athletes. Nick has been speaking a lot for the Royals on equality. Us or younger African-American athletes seeing them makes us realize we can do it too. Everyone thinks things are so out of reach, but when you see someone who looks like you standing up for what they are doing, it makes it more attainable.”
Although the group is in its infancy, Heath and Rew-Hoover both see much larger things ahead for it.
“I want to make it something people want to be part of, not only at NSU,” Heath said. “I want it to make a difference across the Southland Conference. I want them to understand the power we have when we step up and use our voices. When you get enough people together for a common cause, you can really make a splash.”
Added Rew-Hoover: “My biggest hope for this group of athletes is for them to have a platform to be heard about regarding their experiences at NSU. I hope this group will make people more aware of others’ realities and be proactive when necessary.”