by Doug Ireland
There was plenty of Cenla sports flair adding to the joy of the 2022 Homecoming celebration recently at Northwestern State University.
Alexandria Senior High School was ably represented by football stars Craig Nall and Carlos Treadway. Local teacher and coach Erin Mancuso Woodard was in the spotlight for the native Texan’s exploits as a record-shattering softball slugger at NSU. Natchitoches icon Tynes Hildebrand, at 91, was beaming as he accepted his latest accolade.
Nall and Woodward were inducted in the N-Club Hall of Fame for their exploits competing at NSU.
Hildebrand and Treadway took their places in the Long Purple Line Alumni Hall of Distinction, the highest honor the university awards former students.
Treadway came to NSU as a tight end on the football team, but with great purpose to convert his athletic ability into a college education to set the foundation for his future. It worked.
He is living in London, working as CEO of Ford Credit Europe. He previously spent seven years in China as president of Ford Automotive Finance China and as a key administrator in Ford’s Asian operations.
In his acceptance remarks, Treadway reflected on the support he had from family and friends in Alexandria. He took time to cite the remarkable encouragement and mentorship of Dena Stoker, an English teacher at ASH, the wife of football coach Butch Stoker and the mother of ASH’s star quarterback and future NSU star Scott Stoker.
Joining Treadway in celebrating his recognition on Homecoming weekend Oct. 21-22 was a large group of family and friends, including former ASH and NSU teammate Jerry Roberson.
Treadway made the weekend significant for generations to come at NSU. He announced the creation of the Carlos Treadway Family Scholarship, initiated with a $15,000 donation to the NSU Foundation. The scholarship will benefit minority students from central Louisiana.
Hildebrand left his hometown of Florien in 1950, traveling over gravel roads to reach Natchitoches to attend Northwestern State College and play basketball for coach Hank Lee Prather. He never did.
Prather was elevated to the NSC presidency before the basketball season began. Hildebrand did play basketball and competed in track and field, and remained in Natchitoches for more than 60 years.
He and wife Julia were educators. He coached basketball and after great success at Natchitoches High School, became head coach at Northwestern for 15 years, and not long afterward, athletics director from 1983-96. His third phase of his professional career came as an officials observer for the NCAA until 2014, when he was enshrined in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. The Hildebrands moved to Shreveport soon afterward but their hearts have never left Natchitoches and NSU.
“I’m 91, and I don’t move like I used to, but I don’t consider myself elderly,” said Hildebrand. “Elderly people are wise and I’m still learning. Seriously, this is a joyful occasion for Julia and I, and our family.”
Nall transferred to Northwestern from LSU, where he played occasionally for three seasons under coaches Gerry DiNardo and Nick Saban. He said his decision to transfer was finalized in a few short days prior to the spring semester of 2001, and thanked then-athletic director Greg Burke and others for their efforts to find a way to maximize his academic credits from LSU so that he could not only become eligible at Northwestern but could earn a degree while in Natchitoches.
After arriving in January of 2001, Nall quickly won the starting quarterback spot in spring practice while also competing as a javelin thrower in track and field for NSU. During his one football season with the Demons, he broke the school record for passing yards (2,361) and was tied for second with 12 passing touchdowns.
In a 27-24 overtime upset win at TCU – which the season before ranked in the top 10 in major college football — Nall passed for 326 yards and three touchdowns, leading a fourth-quarter rally against the Horned Frogs, who went to a bowl game to end that 2001 season.
Nall guided NSU into the FCS playoffs in his sensational senior year, and a narrow loss at eventual FCS national champion Montana.
After going to the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round of the NFL Draft, he qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the javelin for a second straight spring.
Nall played seven years in the NFL, mostly in Green Bay and Buffalo. He was also a standout in one season in NFL Europe. He was joined at the N-Club ceremony by his two pre-teenage sons and his mother, Susie, along with his sibllings. Their dad, Susie’s husband Malcolm, passed away in March.
Mancuso anchored first base for the NSU softball team while her bat did the talking for her. The strong, silent type, she had a competitive fire that roared, and fueled her teams to two Southland Conference championships, a Southland tournament title, two NCAA Tournaments, and 147 wins (147-90 overall, 78-27 in conference) from 1999-2002.
Mancuso is one of five Lady Demon softball players to earn multiple First Team All-Louisiana selections and was a three-time All-Southland pick. She is third in program history for RBI (127) and doubles (44) and fourth in home runs (38). In 2000, she clubbed a school-record 18 homers and drove in 49 runs.
She and husband Brad, a Grant Parish native who met the love of his life while he was a manager for the Lady Demon softball squad, teach and coach and cheer for the Houston Astros while raising