Oliphant Scholarship grows thanks to golf tournament donations

The James Oliphant Memorial Golf Tournament is a little more than a decade old, and thanks to the generosity of its latest group of golfers, it helped its namesake scholarship reach a new donation level.

More than 70 golfers gathered at Northwestern Hills Golf Course this past month for the 12th annual Oliphant tournament, raising $5,000 for the endowed football scholarship named for Oliphant, the father of Demons Unlimited Foundation Board member and Northwestern State alumnae Nicole Gray.

A Northwestern State alumnus, Oliphant was a beloved basketball, track and field and football coach in Natchitoches Parish. He retired because of health complications from ALS before his death Oct. 19, 1988.

Twenty years later, Gray honored her father’s legacy by establishing the James L. Oliphant Scholarship, which is one of 25 endowed NSU athletic scholarships of at least $20,000. The Oliphant golf tournament followed with Gray building the event with help from her uncle, Odell Oliphant, and cousin, J.D. Oliphant.

“My father loved his students and many revered him as a father figure,” Gray said. “I believe he is continuing to fulfill his purpose on earth of helping young men become their best selves and fulfilling their dreams of obtaining higher education.”

Gray attributes much of the tournament’s success to the sponsors who help to defray the costs of hosting the annual event. From title sponsor International Paper – Red River Mill to contributions from local businesses and organizations, including Howard Conday Law Firm, Winterhaven Professional Counseling, Sharplin Hotels, Bank of Montgomery, Complete Title Services, Ben Johnson Educational Center, the NSU Foundation, Eagle Distributing, Fishers Sports and Music, and Legacy Café, the tournament has become a staple of the spring in Natchitoches.

Added Gray: “I’m so grateful for the outpouring of community support and all of the players who show up every year to help us raise money for this scholarship. We couldn’t do this without the support of these sponsors.”

The Demons Unlimited Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity supporting NSU Athletics through scholarship funding for all 14 sports, facility enhancement, student-athlete recruiting efforts and coach retention performance bonuses among other methods.

“We are so appreciative of Nicole and her dedication to enhancing the Demons Unlimited Foundation endowment through the funding of the Oliphant Scholarship,” said Deputy Athletic Director Dr. Haley Taitano. “Our goal is to grow our endowment to $5 million, which would enable us to sustain much needed financial support of our student-athletes for generations to come.”

To donate to the Oliphant Scholarship or the Demons Unlimited Foundation, contact Taitano at 318-357-4278.

Pictured: Deputy Athletic Director Dr. Haley Taitano, Nicole Gray and Director of Athletics Greg Burke celebrate the latest donation to the James L. Oliphant Scholarship.

Photo: NSU Athletics