NSU Presidential Search: Kim LeDuff

LeDuff

Dr. Kim LeDuff brings a wealth of first-hand, extensive knowledge and experience as a top finalist for president of Northwestern State University. LeDuff’s broad, 23-year higher education portfolio includes work in key university areas such as academics, student affairs, recruitment, retention, inclusion and fundraising.

She currently serves as Vice President for Academic Engagement and Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida. She is a visionary higher education leader with a knack for building and motivating strong teams.

According to the current President of UWF, Martha Saunders, “Kim has a heart for students. She has demonstrated that as a highly effective professor and in her work as the founding Vice President of the Division of Academic Engagement at UWF,” she said. “She truly understands how universities work. More importantly, I am immensely proud when I see the positive impact that this has on our students, faculty and staff.”

LeDuff is well-versed in developing creative solutions to tackle higher education’s toughest challenges. She played a key role in raising UWF’s score, rank and reputation in the Florida Board of Governors Performance-Funding Metrics Model. This model scores each of Florida’s 12 public universities based on 10 metrics designed to incentivize university excellence and improvement.

The work of her team led to the most significant increase in academic progress in the Florida State University System over a five-year period. LeDuff has created partnerships at all levels to improve student success. She collaborated with Take Stock in Children and Gulf Power to support the Take Stock Collegiate Scholars program. Her team also successfully acquired two federally funded Trio Student Support Services grants at over $1.4 million each, which aids first generation, low income and disabled students. In addition, under her leadership UWF increased international partnerships and opportunities for faculty and student exchange.

LeDuff believes that it is important to partner with key employers and community members to make sure that universities are providing the most up-to-date skills and knowledge for the current and future workforce. “The future of higher education requires thinking beyond traditional degree programs” LeDuff says. “We must train students to be lifelong learners who upskill and retool over the course of their careers.”

Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, LeDuff’s education and professional experience have taken her across the country, but she is ready to return home to Louisiana and lead Northwestern State University to the next level.

“I am driven by a simple desire to pay it forward,” LeDuff says. “I want to create pathways for people to achieve their dreams and become the best possible versions of themselves.”

LeDuff is also a Full Professor of Communication at UWF. Previously, she was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi. She held leadership roles in the School of Mass Communication and Journalism there. She served as faculty at Hampton University in Virginia and Xavier University of Louisiana.

LeDuff holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from Indiana University, an M.A. from the University of Maryland-College Park and a B.A. from Xavier University of Louisiana. She’s an alumnus of The Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University and earned the Fundraising Management Certificate from The Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University- Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Some of her honors include:

  • Leadership in Education Award, Pensacola Area Commitment to Excellence (P.A.C.E) Awards, (presented by The Greater Pensacola Chamber) 2020
  • Pensacola Power List 100, In Weekly magazine, 2017-2020
  • Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, University of West Florida, 2015-2020
  • 40 Under 40 Alumni Award, Xavier University of Louisiana, 2015
  • Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Diversity Award, Honorable Mention, University of Southern Mississippi, 2013
  • Heart of Hattiesburg: Women of Color Award, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, , 2012
  • USM Armstrong-Branch Keynote Lecturer, Race and Representation in Media, Hattiesburg, 2012
  • Educator of the Year Award, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Diversity, 2012

Chiefs suffer stunning loss that damages playoff outlook

On Halloween weekend, the previously resurgent Natchitoches Central football team masqueraded as the winless 2020 Chiefs, and it was costly.

In an outcome nobody anticipated except the Haughton Buccaneers, the Chiefs fell out of a three-way tie for the District 1-5A lead as they were drubbed 35-7 Friday night.

NCHS dropped to 7-2 overall, still heading to the state playoffs but not necessarily with a home game salted away. That might hinge on the regular-season finale next Friday night in Turpin Stadium against playoff-bound Benton.

The loss dropped NCHS all the way out of the top 10 in the LHSAA power points rankings down to No. 17. The top 16 host playoff games.

At Haughton, the Chiefs played without junior quarterback B.J. Young, who had a shoulder injury that sidelined the playmaker. That, however, was only one factor in the outcome.

NCHS fumbled away the opening pooch kickoff and Haughton scored two plays later, so the Chiefs were playing uphill all night.

The NCHS defense, which has been superior this fall, was unable to bottle up the Bucs, who had shown steady improvement recently but nothing to indicate Friday night’s performance. Haughton (5-4) posted 264 total yards, 184 rushing, 127 on 16 carries by Tyler Rhodes, who scored twice.

Senior Caylin Demars did Caylin Demars things for the Chiefs, recording 164 rushing yards on 26 carries including a 35-yard touchdown that finally got the visitors on the board late in the first half. But the rest of the NCHS offense managed only four net yards.

After taking the quick lead 21 seconds into play, the Bucs doubled the advantage midway through the opening period on a 4-yard Rhodes run for a 14-0 margin. That capped a methodical nine-play, 61-yard drive.

It grew to 21-0 thanks to a bad punt snap that set up Haughton at the NCHS 4-yard line midway through the second quarter. The Chiefs came to life offensively, moving 59 yards on seven snaps after the kickoff, capped by Demars’ TD run.

But Haughton maintained the upper hand, scoring twice in a minute late in the third quarter to open the 35-7 margin. A pair of two-play “drives” lit up the scoreboard, sandwiched around a turnover by NCHS.

The visitors kept battling but couldn’t cash in. A week after producing five turnovers in a home win over Parkway, the Chiefs ran into an error-free opponent that put together its best game of the season.


Loaded Logansport proves too much for St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s coaches and players knew they had a big challenge going to Logansport Friday night to play for the District 3-1A championship, and it would take the Tigers’ best game to prevail.

No dice. Although a courageous fourth-quarter comeback briefly provided hope of a second straight miraculous rally against Logansport, this year the LHS Tigers punched back with a pair of late scores to secure a 50-23 victory over the visiting Tigers.

A year ago, St. Mary’s scored 15 points in the last 17 seconds to stun Logansport 46-45.

Friday night, St. Mary’s scored 13 straight in just over two minutes to snatch the momentum and draw within 36-23 with 6:01 remaining.

But right away, Logansport threw another lightning bolt on a 79-yard touchdown run 14 seconds later. After stopping SMHS, Logansport got another long play before locking down the win on an 11-yard TD 2:26 before the game’s end.

St. Mary’s (7-2 overall), falling for the first time in eight weeks, committed four turnovers. SMHS avoided a blowout partly by recovering three fumbles and blocking a punt (Drake Griffin).

Logansport scored on big plays of 30, 65, 52, 60 and 79 yards among its seven touchdowns as it piled up an astounding 625 yards, 348 on the ground. St. Mary’s totalled 307 yards, 206 in the air.

“We didn’t play our best game, one of our worst games of the year, and when you do that against a good, athletic, physical team, that’s what you get,” said St. Mary’s coach Aaron York. “They were tough up front and they had some speedsters who could go.

“But as bad as we looked, with all the turnovers, we were within two scores in the fourth quarter and then once again, their speed eclipsed our speed. We couldn’t contain them.”

It was inspiring to see his team rally down the stretch.

“When we got it to that point, you could see it in our kids eyes – ‘hey, we’ve been here before, and we’re OK.’ Plenty of time left,” said York. “Then one long pass, one long run and they pushed the lead back out. We didn’t finish very well.”

St. Mary’s opened the scoring four minutes into play on a 30-yard Payne Williams field goal. The home team responded with a 21-point eruption in just 2:42 at the end of the first quarter to take command, and made it 26-3 8:16 before halftime.

Adam Parker bombed a 49-yard TD to Nathan Slaughter and Williams banged through the conversion just over two minutes later, to breathe some fire back into the visiting sideline. Logansport extended its lead in an 80-second burst midway through the third period for a 36-10 advantage, but the Tigers didn’t quit.

Parker’s 1-yard score and a 10-yard TD connection with Slaughter got SMHS within 13 in the middle of the final period.

Ben Bienvenu, Dalton Waters and Cole Fisher had fumble recoveries for SMHS. Logan Watson led the Tigers with 5.5 tackles.

Logansport was who York thought they were. The winners, despite a 5-4 overall record, are a serious contender for a state 1A title.

“They’re the best team we’ve seen,” said York. “Our two losses are to Logansport, No. 1 in 1A, and Abbeville, No. 4 in 3A. You’re not going to see a better 1A team than we ran into Friday night.

“But we weren’t sharp enough to win,” he said. “This is a lesson. Now we need to finish next week and hopefully get a home playoff game. Football’s a humbling sport, and if this refocuses some of our guys to give their very best every day in every way.”


Struggling Lakeview blanked as injury woes continue

The Lakeview High School football team will battle.

But the Gators haven’t had much in the way of good luck, and bad breaks continue to plague them.

Friday night in a 33-0 loss at Winnfield, Lakeview lost its junior standout, quarterback and safety Dillon Pikes, to a hip pointer in the first quarter. Pikes has been the pivotal piece of the Gators’ offense, and his departure hiked up the degree of difficulty for the visitors.

Winnfield, winning its third straight game, took advantage and kept the Gators off the scoreboard. The Tigers (6-3 overall, 2-3 in District 3-2A) steadily opened a 26-0 halftime lead at Stokes-Walker Stadium.

“Turnovers hurt us. We gave up a pick six, and also gave up a special teams touchdown,” said Lakeview coach Brandon Helms, whose young, short-handed and battered team dropped to 1-8 including a fruitless district slate.

“The kids played hard. I am proud of their effort and how they kept battling. We are so beat up, but the kids keep fighting. I just feel for those who are hurt and can’t play,” he said.

Some who are healthy enough are stepping up.

“James Pennington was a warrior for us,” said Helms. “It was a gutty performance by him.”

Pennington posted 115 yards rushing on 27 carries.

The Gators wrap up their season at home next Friday with the daunting task of facing the top-ranked Many Tigers, the defending Class 2A state champions who have won eight straight games.


Nicholls’ late first-half push upends Demons

The Northwestern State football team went punch for punch with Nicholls for the first 27 minutes of Saturday’s Southland Conference matchup.

The final three minutes of the first half, however, swung the momentum firmly toward the homestanding Colonels as Nicholls pulled away for a 42-21 victory at Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium.

“The last few minutes of the first half and the first six, seven, eight minutes of the second half told the tale of the game,” fourth-year head coach Brad Laird said. “We weren’t able to get anything going, and they scored two (third-quarter) touchdowns to make it 42-14, and we couldn’t rebound.”

With the game tied at 14, Devonta Jason hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Lindsey Scott Jr. with 2:00 to play in the first half. Northwestern State (1-7, 1-4) went three-and-out offensively and got a field-flipping, 52-yard punt from Scotty Roblow, who averaged 49.5 yards per kick on six punts.

The Colonels (4-4, 3-2) overcame that punt, covering 66 yards in six plays as Scott hit Dai’Jean Dixon Jr. for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds to play in the half.

Those late first-half touchdowns stunted the momentum the Demons built in the first 27 minutes.

Making his first career road start, quarterback Zachary Clement accounted for three touchdowns – two in the second quarter.

Each of Clement’s second-quarter scores – a 3-yard rush and a beautifully thrown 67-yard touchdown pass on a wheel route to Jay Griffin IV – answered Nicholls’ first two scores.

Buoyed by the catch-and-run score up the far sideline, Griffin became the first Demon to post a 100-yard receiving game this year, finishing with five catches for a career-high 101 yards.

“I saw it was man coverage, and I knew I had to beat him with my speed,” Griffin said. “I trusted Zach would give me a great ball, and that’s what he did. I feel like Zach is getting more comfortable as the weeks go on. In practice, we’re connecting more on deep balls, which is good for us.”

Down 28-14 at halftime, the Demons were unable to gain much traction in the third quarter. In turn, Nicholls used a pair of Colin Guggenheim touchdown runs to build its largest lead of the game.

Part of Northwestern State’s struggles to move the ball came via penalties as the Demons were called for 11 violations for 93 yards. Nicholls, meanwhile, was whistled for two penalties.

The Demons saw back-to-back, first-down catches from Gavin Landry erased by holding penalties in the first quarter.

“The self-inflicted penalties, we can’t do that and be the best team we can be,” Griffin said.

The Demons won the turnover battle Saturday, intercepting Scott twice, including an end zone interception by Shemar Bartholomew on the game’s opening drive. It marked the second time in as many games against the Colonels that Bartholomew intercepted a pass in the end zone.

The Purple Swarm defense was able to keep the game tied at 7 after stiffening once the Colonels reached the Demon 3-yard line. From there, NSU pushed back and forced Nicholls to settle for a 20-yard field goal try by Gavin Lasseigne, which missed.

“You can look at all three phases and see things we did well,” Laird said.

That included Roblow, who has averaged 50.3 yards per punt across his past 10 punts in games against Southeastern and Nicholls. Included in his performance Saturday was a career-best, 66-yard punt, NSU’s first 60-yarder since Parker Pastorello’s 68-yard effort against Sam Houston on Oct. 23, 2018.

“I’ve been focusing on my craft in practice, working with (long snapper) Evan (Gibson) and (kicker) Eddie (Godina), just constantly getting snaps in,” Roblow said. “It feels amazing seeing the ball in the air, getting a good bounce. It helps the team more than it helps me, so if I keep doing that, we’ll be good from there.”

The Demons return home for their Nov. 6 home finale against Houston Baptist. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.

Photo: Sean McGraw/NSU Athletics


NSU Presidential Search: Collaborative Servant Leader Homeward Bound

Kruger

Friends and family call him funny with a great sense of humor. Colleagues call him fair-minded and someone who can be trusted.

Dr. Darrell P. Kruger is a bilingual immigrant and first-generation college graduate. He is a semi-finalist for the Northwestern State University presidency. He hails from Eshowe, South Africa. Eshowe is the Zulu onomatopoeic expression for the sound the wind makes when it blows through the forest trees. Forested northwest Louisiana is strikingly reminiscent of his birthplace.

Darrell has lived and worked on two continents. This includes living, working, and reveling with the people, places and culture of Louisiana for 15 years. That is close to half his life in the United States. He is a cultural geographer and anthropologist. Dr. Kruger has studied Louisiana and taught about the uniqueness and diversity of the Pelican state in Louisiana, Illinois, and now in North Carolina. He and Leonie (wife of 33 years) also have a special attachment to Louisiana. They started their lives as young immigrants in Baton Rouge. Their three children were born and educated in Louisiana. They have lifelong Louisiana friends who they frequently visit in the Bayou state, most recently this past August.

He brings an impressive list of professional leadership experiences and accomplishments as a teacher and administrator. Collaboration lies at the heart of his successes. Dr. Kruger wrote in his application letter that he “…highly values collaborative leadership rooted in shared governance.” This “…collaborative team-approach resulted in several major accomplishments…” during his tenure as Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor at Appalachian State University.

Dr. Kruger brings this collaborative spirit, demonstrated higher education successes, and more than 25 years of leadership experience, “….to strengthen and further elevate NSU and the University of Louisiana System.”

Working with people for the public good energizes him. He has extensive government relations experience and success at the local, state, and federal levels. In addition, he has results. Growing resources in Illinois. Leveraging funding to strengthen K-20 geographic education in Louisiana and Illinois. Successfully advocating for passage of the $2 billion CONNECT North Carolina Bond that resulted in the construction and opening of the $70 million Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences.

He has more than 10 years of experience working with the National Geographic Society Education Foundation advocating for federal funding for geography as a core subject. He developed interpersonal skills and experience meeting with U.S. senators, representatives, and legislative staff in the Rayburn, Longworth, and Cannon Buildings in Washington D.C. This experience has translated to funding successes working with State Farm Insurance, the U.S. Department of Education, and other federal funding agencies in Illinois.

Dr. Kruger has seven years of experience traveling with faculty to Washington D.C. to meet with funding agency staff about sponsored research and grant proposals in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. At the local level, he has worked with elected officials, town managers, and local leaders in Illinois, North Carolina, and Louisiana to propel economic development, educational, and beautification partnerships. At the university level, he has worked with faculty, staff, students, board members, alumni, and system leaders. Darrell’s people-centered and collaborative leadership approach, experience, and inter-personal skills will help grow and strengthen NSU locally, statewide, and nationally.

Darrell has many interests outside of work. Travel tops the list. He especially loves visiting and experiencing historic places. He has visited Natchitoches—the oldest European settlement in Louisiana—many times. Natchitoches meat pies are one of his favorites. His learning about and tasting Natchitoches meat pies for the first time at Lasyone’s in Natchitoches makes for a funny story best told in person. He has crisscrossed Louisiana from coastal Venice to ascending the highest point in Louisiana, Mount Driskill in Bienville parish. With the picture to prove it!

He has visited three-quarters of the 50 states and more than a dozen countries on six continents. Travel has broadened his worldview. Colleagues will tell you the ease with which he is able to relate to people on campus from a diversity of places, identities, languages, and backgrounds. Travel, being a bilingual immigrant and a life-long learner enable him to bridge perceived boundaries.

Dr. Kruger says that Louisiana has been kind to him. Exceedingly kind. Louisiana has given this adopted son three professional opportunities or shots to invoke Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. Graduate School at LSU. His first tenure-track position at ULM. His first executive leadership role at UNO. The NSU presidency is the fourth opportunity Louisiana is giving him. Serving as NSU’s 20th president would not only be an honor. It would be a way for this servant leader to pay it forward. To Louisiana. To Louisianans’.


NSU not the only institution stressed by athletic conference shuffles

By Doug Ireland

The biggest games this fall are not being played on football fields.

Not at Northwestern, McNeese, or Louisiana Tech, to zero in on nearby colleges with a lot of high stakes maneuvering swirling around their athletic futures. They’re hardly unique. This is a turbulent time around the country as Division I conference affiliations are undergoing their own version of legislative and congressional redistricting.

At NSU, there’s a much bigger, hotter topic: the search for a new president. That, at least, is to be resolved as a field of six semifinalists – three with Northwestern ties – is trimmed to two after interviews Monday and Tuesday, and a winner is declared by the University of Louisiana Board of Supervisors next Monday, Nov. 8.

Whomever is still standing, and taking the keys to the president’s home facing Chaplin’s Lake on campus, will need to immediately focus on the status of the Southland Conference as a top priority to be addressed, well before a Thanksgiving dinner menu is discussed.

By then, McNeese may be on its way out the Southland door. The leadership in Lake Charles believes its best course is to pursue Football Bowl Subdivision membership, and not to stay in the Football Championship Subdivision-rooted Southland. The dubious rationale is to cash in on the bigger revenues from game guarantees, bowl money and TV shares, and the notion that the move up will pique fan interest. But first, somebody has to invite you to dance.

The route struck a dead end a couple weeks ago when McNeese’s ultimate new neighborhood, the Sun Belt Conference including UL Lafayette and UL Monroe, expanded and reportedly didn’t give even a glance toward Lake Charles. The Clampetts didn’t really fit in Beverly Hills, did they? That’s sure how the Cowboys look to Ragin’ Cajun fans and the ULL administration, except without the bubblin’ crude to fuel McNeese’s ambition.

But there’s some mutual interest, to say the least, between McNeese and the rapidly shifting Western Athletic Conference. Last the WAC had any tie to the Bayou State, Louisiana Tech roamed that far-flung territory with well established, authentically western FBS programs like Boise State, Fresno State, Colorado State and Hawaii 10 years ago.

That was then, and now the only leftover from that WAC is New Mexico State. The newbies include four Texas schools that bolted from the Southland last year – longstanding NSU and McNeese rivals Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, Lamar and relatively-new-to-the-Division I scene Abilene Christian, one of the darlings of last year’s March Madness basketball tournament. After a decade of not sponsoring football, the WAC is rejoining the FCS ranks next fall, with visions of somehow moving into the FBS despite none of the members meeting current standards to do so.

As SFA (long known to rivals as Stephen F. Arrogant) and crew landed in the WAC, they found the landscape tilted northwest, with plenty of cruel, lengthy bus rides for their teams or even worse, costly air travel to places like Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Seattle.

Suddenly, the move seemed WACky, unless they could establish a Texas-based southern division with the lure of a potential upgrade to FBS status dangled in front of former undesirable Southland partners McNeese and Incarnate Word (in San Antonio). Two programs that were deemed low-class cousins by SFA and its scoundrel travel partners less than a year ago suddenly had curb appeal. As in, the curb on the only paved street in your neighborhood.

McNeese and UIW made membership presentations in early October to WAC presidents meeting in Denver. It’s reasonable to expect a marriage of convenience may be consummated soon, and if that happens, it sets off tornado warnings in Natchitoches, Thibodaux, Hammond and New Orleans as the viability of the Southland is in serious peril, and there is no apparent safe harbor or escape hatch for NSU, Nicholls, Southeastern or UNO.

Addressing the risk of that implosion must be an immediate priority for the new NSU president. It should be of great interest in Baton Rouge, with a shredded Southland stressing athletic programs of the remaining four ULS schools that combined spend close to $40 million annually ($7.5 at Northwestern, and that’s at the bottom end of current Southland athletic budgets). But another Southland shakeup seems to be met with indifference, or even with the apparent support of UL System president Dr. Jim Henderson, who was in Denver at McNeese’s presentation, according to south Louisiana sources. That’s a head scratcher.

So, too, for Louisiana Tech fans is the recent deterioration of their Conference USA. One of the departures of seven schools stings more than the rest. North Texas, Rice, UAB, UTSA, Florida Atlantic and Charlotte all are bringing their big metro TV markets to the American Athletic Conference (where Tulane is smiling). While a bitter pill, it’s one easily swallowed. Not at all: watching Tech’s nearest CUSA cousin, Southern Mississippi, gleefully heading into the once-substandard Sun Belt, aligning with the UL’s, Monroe and Lafayette, and thanks to Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State and the like, heading into what has recently emerged as an attractive second-tier league in football and baseball.

There’s certainly a chill in the air even in August when Bulldogs approach Warhawks or Ragin’ Cajuns. Institutionally, they are neighbors but not friends, athletically speaking. Cordial is an alcoholic beverage available in all three camps, not a description of how they play together. The UL’s get along fine, comparatively speaking, because they share deep-seeded disdain for the outliers in Ruston.

Meanwhile, much discontent at LSU has been resolved by the expensive ouster of Coach O, and the resulting theatre of a football coaching search. The SEC’s borders expanded with the impending additions of powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas, the trigger to the rest of these conference lineup changes unfolding. Tons of TV revenue will accumulate faster than snow did early this year in these parts.

There’s never been a better time to be an HBCU, and especially a member of the SWAC. Grambling and Southern athletics are well positioned for decades to come. The suggestion that they would solve the Southland’s woes is as unlikely as Biden and Trump sitting down to supper – or LaTech shuffling into the Sun Belt any time soon.

It won’t be people wearing headsets or uniforms making the biggest difference for sports at NSU, Tech or McNeese the rest of this year or in 2022. It’s going to be the grownups in dress clothes, and the biggest plays will be made by telephone, text, e-mail and Zoom.

If somehow McNeese can be persuaded to stay put, the Southland’s stock – not only in Lake Charles but at NSU, Nicholls, SLU and UNO – would be steadied. Otherwise, cryptocurrency is more reliable.


Champs: Northwestern State shuts out the lights on HBU with golden goal, clinches Southland regular season title

By Aaron Ferguson, Sports Information Graduate Assistant

The Northwestern State soccer team returns home from its final road match of the season as undisputed champions of the Southland Conference regular season for the first time since 2000.

NSU secured the title – a first-round bye, and the first seed of the upcoming Southland Conference Tournament — following a 1-0 overtime golden goal against Houston Baptist from the league’s leading scorer Olivia Draguicevich.

“The team was fantastic through the whole ordeal today, and I couldn’t be happier,” head coach Stuart Gore said. “We stuck to our game plan, were knocking on the door all game long, and (Olivia) only needs one opportunity.”

The goal came as a result of a corner kick assist from sophomore midfielders Kyle Nolen and Delaney Wells, which was hunted down in the net by Draguicevich and dropped in at low-left, earning the 12th game-winning goal of her career and tying the all-time record.

After going scoreless through regulation, NSU entered extra time with fervorous intent, sending four shots at HBU’s Karla Ramirez though the first three minutes, two of which required a save from Ramirez. Draguicevich would get one more shot attempt in, before the set piece in which she scored.

Entering the match, Draguicevich was tied for 8th nationally in game-winning goals, and 23rd in the nation in total goals scored.

Wednesday’s 1-0 shutout for the current Southland Goalkeeper of the Year Acelya Aydogmus represented her tenth this year, breaking the single season record set by herself in the spring 2020 season just six months prior. A two-save day for Aydogmus against Houston Baptist (4-13-1, 4-8 SLC) allowed NSU (10-4-2, 10-1 SLC) to stay in front of a stiff HBU defense which had to fend off 26 shot attempts—seven of which were on frame.

Aydogmus entered Wednesday’s match tied for fourth in the nation in shutouts. Logging the 25th of her NSU career, Aydogmus extended her lead on the all-time record—a benchmark she surpassed at 20 on September 19th at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

“This is a huge deal for all of us, and we’re all just really proud to be bringing this title home,” Gore said. “I’m so proud of our team and the staff members that have all played a part in us getting here.”

NSU returns home for Senior Day on Friday, as they welcome second place McNeese for its Southland Conference regular season finale and honor the Lady Demons’ 2021 senior class.

Photo: Courtesy of Northwestern State Athletics


Demons kick off road-heavy stretch with noon start at Nicholls on Saturday

The Northwestern State football team learned how to reset its collective body clock two weeks ago.

Following five straight night games to open the season, NSU kicked off its Oct. 16 matchup against McNeese in the afternoon, giving the Demons experience in adjusting their gameday routines.

It will do so again Saturday as the Demons (1-6, 1-3 Southland Conference) kick off a stretch of three road games in the final four weeks of the year with a trip to Nicholls (3-4, 2-2). Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. at Manning Field at John L. Guidry Stadium.

The game can be seen on Cox Sports Television and on ESPN+ for those outside the CST viewing area. It can be heard on the Demon Sports Network, flagshipped by 94.9 FM The River in Natchitoches.

LISTEN LIVE

“It’s an early kick for us on Saturday,” fourth-year head coach Brad Laird said. “For us, our mental clock has to change a little bit in terms of understanding what time we’ll be playing on Saturday. There’s not much you can do differently in order to get ready for a game. The pregame meal will be at an earlier time, and the meetings will change a little bit, but that’s about it.”

Laird used the term “special” to describe road trips, and Northwestern State’s most recent road trip was just that as the Demons rallied past Houston Baptist, 21-17, on Oct. 9.

NSU’s trip to Nicholls comes on the heels of its most balanced offensive effort of the season. The Demons ran for 207 yards and threw for 206 in a 51-14 loss to Southeastern in its most recent outing.

That balance will be key against a Nicholls team that leads the Southland Conference in total defense (382.3 yards per game) and stands second in rushing defense (119 ypg).

Against Southeastern, the Purple Swarm defense started fast, forcing the Lions to punt twice on the first three drives after SLU had punted once its previous two games.

The Lions entered that game ranked second nationally in yards per game while Nicholls comes into Saturday’s contest ranked fourth nationally in total offense (492.4 yards per game) and fifth in rushing offense (246 ypg).

While both offenses are productive, they do so in different ways.

“It starts with the quarterback (Lindsey Scott Jr.) and what he can do throwing and running the ball,” Laird said. “They’ve been very dynamic on the ground. They have a good offensive line and running backs and a quarterback who does what he does. Then you have (Dai’Jean) Dixon outside, who is one of the top receivers to ever come through the conference in terms of the number of catches he’s had. We have to make sure we do a good job defensively.”

Regardless of the kickoff time or Nicholls’ preferred mode of travel, Laird knows what he and his team can expect when they travel down the bayou to face the Colonels.

“For 60 minutes, it will be a battle,” Laird said. “Within this conference week in and week out, the opportunity is there. It will be no different this week.”

Photo:  Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services


A Great Definition of Leadership from a Great American Leader

By Joe Darby

But Today, It Fits No One

You’ve probably heard of Gen. Jimmy Doolittle. Or at least his name is probably familiar to you. If you’re a history buff, you may know a lot about him.

The general, a good man as well as a great one, was one of the remarkable American leaders of the 20th century,, a century in which our nation produced so many men and women of top quality. Doolittle once gave as good a definition of leadership as you are ever likely to find. I’ll get to that it a moment. But what is so sad, is that none of our so called leaders of today even come close to living up to the general’s description of a leader.

Before we examine my contention on that point, let me take a moment to tell you briefly about Doolittle’s remarkable life, so you can know a little more about him. He spent his earlier childhood in the incredibly rough frontier towns of Alaska, in the first decade of the 1900s, having to fight his way through life almost every day.

After his family moved to California, he began to fly, became one of our nation’s top test pilots and was instrumental in helping develop many improvements to aircraft during the 1920s and ’30s. He joined the military and quickly moved up through the ranks.

He first gained international fame when he led the famous raid on the Japanese homeland in April 1942, flying normally land-based B-25 bombers off of an Navy aircraft carrier. The raid did wonders for the morale of the American people, who were still dealing with the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and the loss of the Philippines. But Doolittle’s top job in World War Ii was as leader of the 8th Air Force, based in England, the portion of our forces that was primarily responsible for bombing Germany and helping to win World War II. Doolittle came up with many innovations that made the US air war more efficient and effective and saved many lives of Americans who flew our big bombers.

His name was a household word by the end of the war, one of our most respected military leaders. So, let me get to the general’s definition of leadership, which he provided in an interview with a military historian a few years before he died in 1993. Here it is:

“Integrity, morality, understanding, accepting responsibility for your actions and providing encouragement and praise when necessary.”

That pretty much sums up a great leader. But who among our recent leaders can live up to those standards? Certainly not Donald Trump, who had no integrity or morality and never accepted any responsibility whatsoever for the failures of his administration. Anything that went wrong was always someone else’s fault. Trump, in his own eyes was perfect. And the only praise he ever doled out was to someone that toadied up to him and kissed his rear. If someone made the tiniest criticism of Trump, they were immediately declared evil and stupid. Is that the behavior we want in a leader?

And what about Joe Biden. He too lacks integrity and is just as willing as Trump to pass on the buck of responsibility to someone else. Or he simply denies that anything is wrong. The evacuation of Afghanistan actually went quite well, our economy is in pretty good shape and there is no crisis at our southern border. Just ask Joe. He’ll tell you. Does he take any responsibility for our present chaos and woes? Well, heck no. On the integrity issue – remember that years ago he was involved in a plagiarism scandal in which he copied the work of another person but made it appear it was his own. So his bad habits are obviously life-long.

I said earlier that there is no one today who can live up to Doolittle’s definition of leadership. There is one man who has caught my attention that could fulfill the role, though he hasn’t yet been tested on a national stage. That man is Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. He is a solid conservative but not a far-right radical, he is intelligent and seems to be a gentleman of integrity. There is something of a quiet dignity about him, the opposite of Trump. I honestly cannot see anyone on the Democratic side with whom I would feel comfortable leading our country at this time. We need good leaders on both sides. But I’m afraid if Gen. Doolittle were alive today, he would have to look very hard to find a good as well as a great person who could lead us.


BOYS TO MEN CLUB: WEEK OF SERVICE

The Boys to Men Club held its Week of Service Oct. 25-29, a full week of performing community service. The guys performed various tasks to complete both on-and-off campus.

The agenda included:

Monday-Cafeteria Clean-Up Day
Tuesday-Distribute School Supplies
Wednesday-Snacks to Elementary Students
Thursday-Assist a Custodian Day
Friday-Dress to Impress Business Day

The Boys to Men Club is a service organization that teaches life skills to 7th & 8th grade male students at NJH. For more information about the club, contact the club Director Jermaine Thomas at jermaine.thomas@npsb.la.


The Annual Drums Along the Cane Concert Came to Natchitoches!

The Drumline from the NSU Spirit of Northwestern Band was joined by the NSU Steel Drum Band in a concert before a delighted audience on the downtown riverbank stage Friday, October 29. Many of the audience members were community members and visitors who found a bit of serendipity on a Friday night. The drumline played a variety of pieces that they normally perform at Demon football games, while the Steel Drum Band played several songs with a Caribbean theme.

The concert was the second one for the NSU Steel Drum Band. They were formed in the Spring of 2020 after Dr. Oliver Molina landed a grant from the State Board of Regents to fund the purchase of the instruments. NSU’s newest band was quite a hit with the audience as they brought a carefree island atmosphere to our city. In what has become a bit of a tradition with the Steel Drum Band, the band played a piece while a Conga line danced under an ever-lowering bar.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal wishes to thank the NSU Drumline and Steel Drum Band for a delightful evening. We would also like to commend you for your hard work and refusal to let the COVID epidemic stop over 100 years of tradition and superb music. These superb musicians and young people are one of the many ways Northwestern State University enriches life in our community. Fork just ‘em Demons!


Notice of Death – October 29, 2021

NATCHITOCHES:
Gertie Kilgore
October 31, 1924 – October 26, 2021
Service: Sunday, October 31 at 2 pm at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home

Penny Ivey
October 08, 1947 – October 22, 2021
Service: Saturday, November 6 at 11 am at Westside Baptist Church in Natchitoches

SABINE:
James David Meshell
February 6, 1943 – October 26, 2021
Service: Saturday, October 30 at 10 am at St. Joseph Catholic Church


The 9th Annual Pumpkin Glow starts the Fall Season on a High Note

The Natchitoches downtown riverbank was packed with families celebrating the 2021 Pumpkin Glow on Thursday, Oct 28. The popular family friendly event is still going strong in its 9th year and has become an integral part of the local fall scene. The stage area featured decorated pumpkins from local contestants vying for top honors.

Performers from local dance studios kicked off the evening’s program, showing off their moves to the crowd in a variety of routines. The evening was capped by some of the finest musicians to be found in the parish. The Middle School, NSU Middle Lab and NCHS orchestras each played several pieces for the appreciative audience.

The orchestras have built a remarkable legacy of excellence over the years and are a group of young people of whom we can all be proud. They have toured Europe, performed several times at New York City’s Carnegie Hall as well as at competitions in Disney World.

We at the Natchitoches Parish Journal have long believed that our parish’s children are the equal of any in the country. Give them opportunities and good leadership and they will rise to any challenge set before them. The young men and women of the Natchitoches Parish School System are superb ambassadors for our area!


Chiefs head to Haughton trying to pad their postseason resume

With a trip to the state playoffs already certain, the Natchitoches Central High School football team tries to enhance its chances of being a top eight seed if it can wrap up the regular season by winning its last two District 1-5A contests, starting tonight at Haughton.

The Chiefs still have a chance to share the district championship, but the more valuable prize will be the highest-possible LHSAA power points ranking. NCHS is ninth, and two more wins should allow them to edge up. A higher seeding betters the chance to play more playoff games at home.

Haughton, which made a deep playoff run last year, hasn’t been as strong this year but is a dangerous foe, especially on the Bucs’ home field between the pine trees.

MATCHUP: Natchitoches Central Chiefs vs. Haughton Buccaneers

WHEN/WHERE: Tonight, 7 p.m., Harlan Stadium (Haughton)

RADIO BROADCAST: 95.9 Kix Classic Country, Steve Graf with the play-by-play, pregame show at 6:45.

LISTEN LIVE

darker_kix_round300

RECORDS: NCHS 7-1 overall, 4-1 in District 1-5A; Haughton Buccaneers 4-4, 2-3

LAST GAME: Natchitoches Central beat Parkway 38-21. Haughton lost to Captain Shreve 52-14.

NOTES: The Natchitoches Central defense has been dominant this season, giving up only 12 points per game and allowing 187 yards per game. Parkway joined Captain Shreve as the only two teams to score three times against the Chiefs. Last week Justin Aaron had three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, bringing his total on the year up to eight interceptions, and a forced fumble. He qualified earlier this fall for the National Football Foundation’s Ark-La-Tex Scholar-Athlete Watch list. Standout linebacker Gabe Vaughn also had an interception for a touchdown last week against Parkway.

Senior running back Caylin Demars crossed the 1,000-yard rushing threshhold in last week’s win with his seventh 100-yard performance this year. Also on the NFF Ark-La-Tex Scholar-Athlete Watch List, Demars has 151 carries for 1,070 yards, averaging 7.1 yards per carry. He sits atop the team with 11 touchdowns, and threw a 75-yard TD pass last week. Behind him is junior quarterback BJ Young who has 10 rushing touchdowns and 427 rushing yards on 87 carries. Young has also thrown for 511 yards and four touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Colby Raupp leads the team in receiving yards with 208 on five receptions with two touchdowns, one last week from Demars. The Chiefs currently sit at No. 9 in the LHSAA power point rankings and hope to climb in the top 8 by the start of the state playoffs if they can beat Haughton and Benton next week.

COACH JAMES WILKERSON SAYS: “Haughton has a great program with great coaches and players. They’re one of the best programs in our district in the last eight years and have a great winning culture. They play hard and they are well coached. It’s a tough place to play so we have to come out playing our best. We are still looking to play a complete game.”


Stacy named interim dean of the College of Business and Technology

Dr. Mary Edith Stacy has been named interim dean of the College of Business and Technology at Northwestern State University. Her appointment has been approved by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.

“I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff, alumni and stakeholders to advance the College of Business and Technology,” said Stacy. “The College contains nationally recognized programs that serve our region and state well. I plan to continue the College’s outreach to business and industry to be sure our graduates are always ready to enter to workforce and be productive.”

The College of Business and Technology includes bachelor of science programs in accounting, business administration with concentrations in business analytics, e-sports management, entrepreneurship, finance, international business, management and marketing. The College also includes bachelor of science programs in computer information systems with concentrations in application development, core programming, cyber security, networking and system management, web development and hospitality management and tourism with concentrations in culinary arts, hospitality services, travel and tourism. The College of Business and Technology offers a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems.

“Dr. Stacy brings many years of experience to her role, and will be able to utilize them as we work to engage with the business and industry community,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Greg Handel. “She has a wealth of experiences that will assist in positioning the College of Business and Technology for program growth, responsiveness to the profession and continued growth of relationships with advisory councils in business and industry. “

Stacy has been a member of the staff and faculty at Northwestern State since 1992. She has worked in the Office of Financial Aid as coordinator of university scholarships from 1992 to 1998 and as director of auxiliary services from 1998 until 2003.

From 2003 to 2011, she was director of enrollment management where she was responsible for NSU’s student recruitment and retention plan and future enrollment forecasting. Under her leadership, the university had a record enrollment and made a successful transition to selective admissions which strengthened the institution.

Since 2011, Stacy has been a faculty member in the Department of Psychology and School of Business. In the School of Business, she has taught classes in business statistics and operations management to an average of 120 students per semester. Stacy has designed assessments to demonstrate a student’s knowledge of real-world business problems and finding solutions through problem solving techniques.

Stacy earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree at Northwestern State and a doctorate at Louisiana State University.

As a faculty member, Stacy has made numerous presentations to state, national and international professional conferences often collaborating with colleagues at Northwestern State.


Broadband Commission meeting discusses eliminating digital divide in Louisiana by 2029

Veneeth Lyengar, Governor John Bel Edwards’ appointee for Louisiana’s first executive director of broadband development and connectivity, spoke to attendees at a Broadband Commission meeting on Oct. 28 regarding funding options and what is going on at the State level with Broadband.

With the expansion of faster internet connections across the state, numerous benefits can be realized as more and more residents are connected. These include education, economic development, public safety, health care, remote work, entertainment and access for people with disabilities.

The Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities grant program aims to help private providers facilitate the deployment of broadband service to unserved areas of the state. Any local government in Louisiana can partner with a private provider and apply for GUMBO grants. The initial round of grants will open for applications on Nov. 1, 2021, and close on Dec. 31, 2021. The application review and protest period will occur during January and February 2022, with awards to be issued spring 2022.

Closing the gap of the digital divide is a significant challenge and lofty goal, but we believe it can be eliminated in Louisiana by 2029. Challenges around this exist in three main pillars:

Access

Data from McKinsey and Company indicates there are several hundred thousand households throughout Louisiana that lack broadband speeds of 25 megabits per second download and 3 megabits per second upload. ConnectLA aims to assist local leaders in identifying the extent of the problem locally and how they can use the available resources to their benefit. In the near term, there are two programs that aim to impact our Louisiana residents. In the fall of 2020, the Federal Communications Commission awarded $342 million to 13 private internet service providers through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. This funding will provide broadband internet to a considerable number or residents over a six-year period. In addition, the state GUMBO grant program will fund around $180 million for local providers to work with municipalities to build out broadband infrastructure. Between these two programs, we can potentially impact over 250,000 locations over the next five to six years.

In Natchitoches Parish it’s estimated that around 14,000 residents do not have access to broadband.

Curious about what speeds you have locally? Test your speed out using the Delta Regional Authority’s speed test online at https://dra.gov/research/broadband-mapping.

Affordability

A big hurdle to broadband access for some residents is being able to afford monthly charges for internet service. According to McKinsey and Company, 43.6% of Louisianians do not have access to a low cost home high-speed internet subscription. Assisting and providing support to those with affordability concerns will ensure they receive the support they need. ConnectLA feels that this is an important area to have a positive impact within. The GUMBO grant program includes affordability as a scoring metric to ensure that we offer affordable programs.

Launched in May of 2021, the FCC now offers an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program that provides a discount for broadband access to qualifying residents. Louisiana ranks in the top twenty beneficiaries of the program, and we strongly encourage our residents to apply.

In the 714 zip code area it’s estimated that around 15,000 households may be eligible for federal assistance programs.

Digital Literacy

In Natchitoches Parish it’s estimated that as many as 6,000 residents ages 18-64 may lack necessary digital literacy skills.

In today’s society, it is critical for residents of all ages to be able to use the technology and resources available to them. The goal of digital literacy initiatives is to provide learning opportunities and resources for users to gain a working knowledge of the devices and applications at use in their lives. Internal office analysis, extrapolated from the results of a national 2012 digital problem-solving assessment contained within a 2018 U.S. Department of Education report, indicates that as many as 460,000 Louisiana residents, ages 18-64, lack basic foundational computer skills to take full advantage of broadband services. To provide affordable broadband connectivity to all, we must also ensure leaders throughout our state provide the digital literacy tools necessary for Louisianians to excel. ConnectLA is actively working with Louisiana entities such as the Board of Regents, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the State Librarian to develop a model of success that can be implemented in your parish. A specific program endorsed by the Board of Regents is the Northstar Digital Literacy program which can be a helpful tool for supporting your local efforts. You can make your town or parish the most connected place in the world, but if your residents can’t operate a computer or mobile device, we as a state can’t improve the quality of life for our families.