NATCHITOCHES – Ryan Hall looked around the Keyser Bricks on Wednesday morning and took in his first Northwestern State Thank A Donor Day.
He watched student-athletes from various sports composing hand-written notes of gratitude to send to Demon fans who have given their time and money to the NSU Athletic Department, and it brought a smile to the assistant athletic director for development’s face.
“It’s huge, especially in a town like Natchitoches where purple pride runs so deep,” Hall said. “It’s a great way to take a few minutes to show what a great community we have on both ends – from the student-athletes on one end to the community and the people who support it. Any time you can bridge that gap and show how appreciative they are of each other, it makes it that much more special and makes NSU athletics what it is.”
The annual Thank A Donor Day event is produced through a partnership between the NSU Foundation and the Demons Unlimited Foundation, the fund-raising arms of Northwestern State Athletics.
The 2021-22 athletic calendar has marked a return to a bit of normalcy for Northwestern State student-athletes after two years of competition that were shrunken or canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You’re grateful, no matter what, just for everything for the donors do for you,” said sophomore baseball pitcher Alex Makarewich, who participated in his second Thank A Donor Day. “Just seeing where all these donations go, it makes you even more grateful for what they do for us.”
While most current NSU student-athletes have grown up in a world dominated by mobile devices, the decidedly old-school notion of sitting down and taking time to hand write a thank you card appealed to those who participated in the daylong event on campus.
“We don’t always have the opportunity to say thank you in person, because we are usually busy with games or practice,” sophomore volleyball outside hitter Breanna Burrell said. “To be able to reach out and write a letter means the world. We get to say thank you, even if it’s not in person. You have to take the time and energy to write something out, and that means something.”
While Makarewich and Burrell have become virtual veterans of Thank A Donor Days, Wednesday’s event was the first for numerous NSU student-athletes.
Despite their standing as first-timers, the importance of the day – and the sense of camaraderie it fosters — was not lost on them.
“It’s really nice to be able to thank the donors who do so much for us and allow us to focus on school and our sports – and make it all possible for us to do both,” said freshman women’s basketball guard Josie Fleischmann. “It means a lot to get together with the other sports and let the donors know how much they mean to us and how we appreciate what they make possible.”