NSU SAAC collects more than $2,000 for Ruston, Louisiana Tech tornado relief

Northwestern State student-athletes (left to right): Hannah Brister (volleyball), Yannik Gerland (track and field/cross country), Megan Lohmiller (volleyball), Chris Zirkle (football) and Gavin Landry (football) were among the Demons and Lady Demons collecting donations at Tuesday’s baseball game against Louisiana Tech. Photo courtesy of Chris Zirkle.


The Northwestern State baseball team came away with a victory against longtime rival Louisiana Tech on Tuesday night.

While the Demons were busy grabbing a 3-1 win, the NSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee was helping the Ruston community take a step forward in its rebuilding efforts.

Northwestern State’s game against the Bulldogs raised more than $2,600 in donations for the Ruston community as it recovers from a tornado that struck the area in the early-morning hours of April 25.

“I think some of our kids were impacted in ways we can never know, because of some of their personal ties they have with the Ruston community and Louisiana Tech, with family, friends or coming from that area,” Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development Kaitlyn McCanna said. “They were just as impacted when they heard the news. They wanted to jump to action to do whatever they could to provide support.

In a show of solidarity and support, several Natchitoches dignitaries, including Mayor Lee Posey and NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio, presented Louisiana Tech Director of Athletics Tommy McClelland and head baseball coach Lane Burroughs with a proclamation before Tuesday’s game, setting in motion a day of giving and fraternity between the schools.

The Louisiana Tech flag that flew above the center-field wall at Brown-Stroud Field for Tuesday night’s game will remain there through the final six Northwestern State home games of the 2019 season.

Direct cash donations at Tuesday’s game totaled $1,725 while concessions revenue added another $790.25. An additional $100 donation was sent to the NSU Athletics Department on Wednesday morning, pushing the total to $2,615.25 in funds that were donated to the Louisiana Tech Disaster Relief fund.

Northwestern State SAAC members spent the majority of Tuesday’s game taking donations at the gate as well as meandering through the crowd to collect monies from fans.

The Louisiana Tech campus was hit hard by the tornado, which also destroyed businesses and homes in the town. The storm system killed five people, including two in Ruston, in two states.

Despite the athletic rivalry that has existed between Northwestern State and Louisiana Tech, NSU’s SAAC leadership had an easy decision when it came to assisting its fellow University of Louisiana System school.

“It was not surprising at all,” McCanna said. “We’ve got a great group of kids who lead themselves. This was an initiative they wanted to put on. We just helped provide the support and promotion of it. Outside of that, they took it and ran with it. They felt compelled to make this happen.”