Demons close out Athletics Social Tour with local stop

THE TOUR STOPS HERE: NSU alum and supporter Ted Roberts (left) visits with women’s basketball coach Anna Nimz (center) and new athletics director Kevin Bostian at Superior’s Steakhouse Thursday night.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

The Northwestern State Athletics Social Tour began two weeks ago and ended Thursday night at Superior’s Steakhouse. As new athletics director Kevin Bostian said, “This is the last one. We’re ending with a bang.”

The tour began in Alexandria two weeks ago, made stops in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, and Houston last week, and concluded with trips to Austin, Dallas, and Shreveport this week.

In addition to Bostian, the local stop included new men’s basketball coach Corey Gipson, third-year women’s basketball coach Anna Nimz, and associate head football coach De’Von Lockett.

Topics included improvements to Demons athletic facilities, NIL, the transfer portal, the upcoming basketball and football seasons, media coverage, and the Southland Conference.

The overriding theme, however, was the family atmosphere at a university located in a special city.

“The community supports the university and the university supports the community,” said Bostian. “This institution is blue-collar, hands in the dirt, grind it out.”

“My family loves being in Natchitoches,” said Gipson. “We’re very blessed to be in the situation we’re in.”

Nimz talked about being hired during Covid, accepting the position sight unseen, buying her house online, not knowing how to spell Natchitoches when she interviewed for the job, and the support she has received from the entire athletics department.

The audience of approximately 25 local Demons’ supporters got updates on a wide range of topics:

  • Upgraded facilities: $10 million for a new health performance center that will be five to six times larger than the existing facility and will include a new training room and rehab center; new turf on the football field with a new design in the end zones and new goal posts; new sod on the soccer field; redoing the court in Prather Coliseum; a new volleyball locker room; upgrading the men’s basketball locker room.
  • NIL: new rules that say universities can broker deals. “We lost a lot of student athletes last year because of NIL,” said Bostian.
  • Transfer portal: “It’s here to stay,” said Bostian. “Kids leave, but it can also be good.”
  • Football season opener: The Demons open the season at Montana over the Labor Day Weekend. To give the players who may have never flown (“and none of them have probably been to Montana,” according to Bostian), the team will fly up on Thursday night and enjoy the sights before preparing for the game.
  • Media coverage: NSU sports will all be broadcast on ESPN+ starting in the fall.
  • Conference realignment: “I think the Southland Conference is stable now,” said Bostian. “Lamar is coming back. We’re right where we need to be. It’s the best situation for us. We’re a bus league. We don’t have to spend the money to fly everywhere.”

When Bostian asked for questions from the attendees, one supporter asked about the lack of local media coverage for NSU.

“There’s more local coverage coming,” said Gipson. “I can’t give any details right now, but we’re going to implement something that will have global input. Be patient. It’s coming.”

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photo by HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD