NSU earns Team Louisiana Sports Innovator Award

NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State Athletic Department’s presentation of the 2020 Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Football Prep Classic has landed NSU statewide acclaim.

Northwestern State was named one of three Team Louisiana Award winners Thursday for the work it did during the four-day high school football state championships from Dec. 27-30, 2020.

The department picked up the Sports Innovator Award, given to an organization or individual that created and developed a successful new event during the 2020 calendar year, during a live awards show that was streamed via Facebook Live.

NSU, the city of Natchitoches, the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Historic District Development Commission worked closely with the LHSAA after COVID-19 protocols for indoor events kept the LHSAA from holding the nine state football championship games in the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. Despite having just a 17-day preparation period between the hosting announcement and kickoff of the first game, the four-day football festival pulled in 22,564 fans to Turpin Stadium and filled a void in the COVID-affected tourism sector in Natchitoches.

Landing the event brought an economic impact of $8.2 million for the Natchitoches area, according to research by Northwestern State Health and Human Performance Professor Dr. Michael Moulton in collaboration with the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Just like it takes a team effort to win ballgames, it took a real team effort for NSU and Natchitoches to collaborate on 17 days’ notice and put on the Prep Classic. It was a privilege to host this event as a service to both the state of Louisiana and to the LHSAA,” said NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke, who acknowledged the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau for nominating NSU for the award.

“There has always been what I like to call a symbiosis between NSU and the city of Natchitoches and it was on full display those last few weeks of December. Our top priority was ensuring that the football student-athletes and their families had the best possible experience and thanks to the efforts of many, that was definitely accomplished.”

Northwestern State was not the only Natchitoches-based entity to take home an award Thursday as Parc Natchitoches was named the Team Louisiana Sports Supporter Award after bringing in an estimated economic impact of $5.1 million to the Natchitoches area.

The Team Louisiana Awards, in its second year, were formed to highlight people and businesses that propel the tourism industry through sporting events. Team Louisiana is a coalition of 17 member communities statewide in partnership with the Louisiana Office of Tourism and Louisiana Travel Association.