General — Northwestern State administration wins national award for sponsorship activation

Northwestern State's Dr. Haley Taitano (associate athletics director for external affairs), Greg Burke (director of athletics), Mike Newton (president and CEO of Exchange Bank in Natchitoches) and Erika Moulder (general manager of corporate partnerships) participate in NSU's signing day for sponsors this past July. The NSU administration won a national award for its creativity in sponsorship activation. CREDIT: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services
– Prospective student-athletes aren’t the only ones who like to announce their collegiate affiliation via the popular National Signing Day.

Northwestern State athletics recreated the signing day feel as they welcomed corporate partners to “sign” their sponsorship agreements in public and mingle with other corporate partners at an event this past July, earning the department the gold medal in the “sponsorship activation” category in the 2020 National Association for Collegiate Marketing Administrators “Best Of” virtual annual awards show Wednesday.

NSU also brought home a bronze medal in the single event sales campaign category for its promotional plan for the NSU-LSU baseball game that generated the second-largest crowd in Brown-Stroud Field history.

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“To receive this level of recognition from NACMA is a tremendous honor – one that has not been achieved until now – for Northwestern State University and its athletic program,” said NSU Director of Athletics Greg Burke. “I am proud beyond words of our hard-working external staff which invests an incredible number of hours and expends an immeasurable level of energy to make a difference for our student-athletes, coaches and fans day in and day out.

“They’ve raised the bar and it’s going to be fun working with them to achieve even greater heights in the future.”

The signing day event was successful in many ways, including producing the department’s most engaging social media content of the year. A Facebook post included a photo album of the event, reaching 8,500 viewers and 840 different engagements with sponsors linking their own photos to the post.

The twist on National Signing Day was lauded by the national newsletter College AD’s “The Nightcap” that college athletic directors and administrators receive.

The event not only recognized current sponsors in a public way but induced four new sponsorship agreements.

“To be recognized by our peers at the national level is a tremendous honor,” said Dr. Haley Taitano, associate athletics director for external affairs. “I’ve always known that we are blessed to have a diversely qualified staff, but for our fellow athletic administrative professionals to see and recognize our hard work, creativity, ingenuity and teamwork speaks volumes about the passion and commitment we as an external staff have to each other, to our student-athletes, to our fans and to NSU.

“I am very proud of our team for a) putting forth these nominations and placing NSU in the spotlight and b) executing events that others observe and want to emulate.”

What the Northwestern State baseball team did to beat LSU in the 2019 regular season, the NSU administration matched to produce one of the most lively atmospheres ever seen at Brown-Stroud Field.

The administration capitalized on one of NSU baseball’s most successful postseasons the previous year (an NCAA Tournament Appearance in which the Demons beat San Diego State and nearly knocked off LSU) by creatively generating space for the second-largest crowd to see an NSU home baseball game.

Brown-Stroud Field has 651 seats, but fans streamed into portable seating sourced from local high schools, makeshift VIP areas, lawn seating and a temporary student section along the left-field line to draw 3,240 fans.

The intimate venue successfully housed a crowd more than five times its actual capacity not just because of additional seating but with the help of barbecue and pizza food trucks, extra concession areas and beer dispensaries.

The LSU game brought in more than $36,000 in ticket sales – the next highest NSU home contest brought in a little more than $1,000. The Demons showcased a stadium that underwent a $500,000 renovation that included new VIP seating and a new press box.

NSU featured a tiered ticket sales strategy, starting with tickets being sold first to season ticket holders. That resulted in more than doubling season ticket sales from the previous campaign.

The sizable attendance figure was drawn despite the original playing date being rained out. The game was played a month later.

NSU was one of only two Southland Conference members to be recognized with an award.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Northwestern State’s Dr. Haley Taitano (associate athletics director for external affairs), Greg Burke (director of athletics), Mike Newton (president and CEO of Exchange Bank in Natchitoches) and Erika Moulder (general manager of corporate partnerships) participate in NSU’s signing day for sponsors this past July. The NSU administration won a national award for its creativity in sponsorship activation.
CREDIT: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services
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Subject: Track and Field — Steels repeats as USTFCCCA Indoor All-American

Photo: Jasmyn Steels competes in the long jump at the Southland Conference Indoor Championships in March. Credit: Mike Wade/Special to NSU Athletics

NATCHITOCHES – Jasmyn Steels did not a chance to defend her national indoor long jump championship because of the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, but she repeated as an All-American.

Steels, Northwestern State’s standout senior from College Station, Texas, was named an Indoor All-American by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, earning the third All-American honor of her career in the long jump, her signature event.

With her third All-American honor, Steels becomes the third Lady Demon to reach that number, joining Stephanie Sewell (4) and Trecey Rew (3).

Steels was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, preparing to defend her 2019 NCAA Indoor Long Jump championship before the pandemic canceled the national meet and scuttled the entire 2020 outdoor track and field season.

“It’s a small consolation prize for her, because she was going to try to retain her NCAA title,” head coach Mike Heimerman said. “I think she would have easily been top three. She felt great, and she didn’t have to worry about more than one event. She was ready to go. Now, she’s a three-time All-American and has a chance to add more next year. She’s put herself on the map as one of the greats in the conference and certainly in Northwestern State history. They only name 16 All-Americans in indoors, and just to be an All-American is a huge honor. I know she’s hungry for more.”

Steels repeated as an indoor All-American, tallying the seventh-longest jump in the nation during the indoor season – a 21-2 leap at the Houston G5 & Super 22 Invitational on Jan. 31. She was victorious in four of five indoor meets in her specialty and finished third in the invitational long jump at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 15.

Steels captured her first Southland Conference championship, soaring 20-5.75 at the Birmingham Crossplex on March 1, winning by a foot and a half as the Lady Demons finished second as a team.

Steels, who also was a first-team outdoor All-American after finishing as the national runner-up in the long jump, expects to return to Northwestern State for the 2021 outdoor track and field season.