Thomas Foster’s passion for Northwestern State was evident even after his retirement in 2011.
That dedication to the Demons will remain even after Foster’s death Sunday.
The Thomas “Dog Check” Foster Football Endowment at Northwestern State has been established in the memory of the custodian who was a friend and mentor to many as well as an ambassador for NSU.
“From Day One as an intern in the athletic department in 1985, Thomas took me under his wing and that gesture began a friendship of more than 30 years,” said former NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke, who along with his predecessor, Tynes Hildebrand, made the initial donation to the fund. “What I soon realized is he treated everyone – whether it be athletes, coaches, staff, parents, fans and, yes, NFL scouts – the same way. He impacted so many lives, which Tynes and I saw first-hand, that it is appropriate his name be forever connected to Northwestern State athletics through this endowment.”
Hildebrand echoed Burke’s comments, especially as it pertained to Foster’s everyman nature and ability to relate to various groups within the athletic department and campus as a whole.
“Thomas had a tremendous relationship with all of the coaches and players,” Hildebrand said. “He loved sports, really loved sports. I don’t know of anybody in the athletic department he didn’t’ get along with. That’s a plus about anybody.
“He was able to get along with people because he could disagree without being disagreeable. He knew how to talk to people. We had some really good times together.”\
Burke referenced the outpouring of support for Foster’s family following his death from an extended battle with cancer was palpable. Numerous social media posts from former players from all sports shed light on what Foster meant to so many Demon student-athletes and staff members.
That impact stretched all the way to the professional ranks as Foster became a go-to source of information for NFL scouts to the point where current NSU quarterbacks coach Kyle Washington was asked about Foster during Washington’s participation in the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship with the Indianapolis Colts this past month.
The fact more than a decade had passed between Foster’s official employment and Washington’s arrival at NSU only reinforced the breadth of Foster’s legacy.
“Sometimes you don’t realize the impact someone has until that individual is no longer here,” said fifth-year NSU head football coach Brad Laird, who got to know Foster when Laird was a record-setting Demon quarterback and later an assistant coach. “We all knew the impact he had, but since his passing, the number of former players who have reached out and told stories on his behalf shows what a special person he was.
“He’s still giving back. I don’t think people realize how much he gave, because he gave in so many ways besides his job. It was the influence he had on others. Stories are still told about Thomas Foster. The impact he had on scouts who came in allowed Northwestern State players to get drafted or earn free-agent chances in the NFL was just one of the ways he helped out.”
Earnings from the endowment will be used at the discretion of the head coach to provide a sustainable source of scholarship and endowment funding that complements annual fund raising initiatives.
“The only thing my father loved as much as his wife and children was NSU football,” said Thomas Foster III. “Honoring him with this endowment will not only assist the program in its continuation to strive for greatness but will also continue his legacy for generations to come.”
The fund was started under the Perpetually Purple program, which aims to allow NSU to provide a sustainable source of scholarship and endowment funding separate from efforts to supplement the annual athletics program budget with donations, corporate partnerships and special fund-raising events.
A minimum commitment of $10,000 is required to create an endowment fund, but that fund can start from any initial outright gift. Endowments can be established with an outright gift such as cash, a stock transfer or property sale, a life insurance policy, or can be included as a provision in a will or bequest.
Arrangements can be made to fund an endowment over an extended period of time. For more information on how to donate to the Thomas “Dog Check” Foster Football Endowment
Photo: NSU Athletics