Brought To You By NSU; Written by Leah Jackson
Northwestern State University’s Eugene P. Watson Library presented the Spring 2023 Living Library Collection focused on what it means to be an athlete at NSU. Participants on the panel of current and former Demon athletes and coaches discussed their experiences on and off and field and the impact it had on their lives.
Panelists were Coach Bobby Barbier, Jack Brittain Jr., Coach Brad Laird, Rachel Penny Cunningham, Diamante Gumbs, Tory Morgan and Lane Roos. Doug Ireland, who served as NSU’s Sports Information Director for over 30 years, was moderator.
Barbier was an Academic All-American as a player for NSU and is in his seventh season as the Demons’ head baseball coach. Barbier led NSU to the first Southland Conference Tournament championship in 2018 and was named the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, Southland Conference and American Baseball Coaches Association Central Region coach of the year that season.
Brittain, a Natchitoches native whose family has strong ties to NSU, played four seasons of football at NSU, was a teammate of the late Joe Delaney and has been an important conduit in keeping Delaney’s memory alive. He played a pivotal role in the ESPN 30 for 30 short “Delaney.” A life-long Demon, he was the sideline reporter for the Demon Sports Network for almost 20 years.
Laird is in his sixth season as the Demons’ head football coach and a member of NSU’s Top 100 Demon Players of All Time. Laird arrived at NSU after a state championship career at Ruston High School. He finished his playing career as NSU’s all-time leading passer with 6,037 yards and had a school record of 6,178 yards total offense. As a coach, he led the Demons to a 24-20 win at McNeese in 2021, marking NSU’s first win in Lake Charles since 1988.
Cunningham was a four-year letter winner as a point guard for the NSU women’s basketball team and handed out 356 assists as the “quarterback” of the Lady Demon offense. A native of Coushatta, she finished her career with the fifth-most career assists in school history. She added 169 career steals, averaging better than 1.6 steals per game. In her four seasons as a Lady Demon, NSU won 76 games and reached the 1989 NCAA Tournament.
Current student Gumbs is a native of Road Town, British Virgin Islands, who burst on the scene in his first season at NSU, reaching the NCAA East Preliminary Round in shot put and discus. In his first season at NSU, he earned All-Southland Conference honors three times. A Southland Conference Commissioner’s Spring Honor Roll selection, Gumbs also earned two spots on the LSWA’s All Louisiana Track and Field Team.
Morgan, also a current student, is a redshirt freshman linebacker and the second member of his family to play football at NSU. A two-year team captain at Edna Karr High school in New Orleans, Morgan won two state championships and played for another in 2020 in Turpin Stadium.
In her second year with the NSU softball, Roos, also a current student, led the team in eight offensive categories and was in the top 10 in the Southland Conference in four categories. A native of Aubrey, Texas, she was a first-team All Southland and second-team All Louisiana selection in 2022. She was also named an Easton/NFCA All-American Scholar Athlete. She is the third member of her family to play softball at NSU, which includes older sister Kiley, and current teammate Lexie.
Watson’s Living Library: Everybody Has a Story is presented once per semester to explore cultural and/or historical topics from those with first-hand knowledge or experiences. The panels are recorded and become part of the collection at NSU’s Watson Library that researchers can use to supplement books, journals and other traditional resources. Panel topics are multidisciplinary and intended to enhance established collections.
The Fall 2023 Living Library panel will focus on “Women Preserving Natchitoches.”
For more information, contact Deborah Huntington, head of Collection Development and Cataloging/assistant professor at email@example.com.
Head Baseball Coach Bobby Barbier, football student-athlete Tory Morgan, softball student-athlete Laney Roos and Head Football Coach Brad Laird, from left, discussed what it means to be an NSU Demon during the April 18 Living Library panel discussion. Doug Ireland, far right, was moderator.
PHOTO ABOVE: Former Lady Demon Rachel Penny Cunningham, Diamante Gumbs and former Demon Jack Brittain Jr. shared thoughts and memories of being an NSU athlete with Doug Ireland moderating the panel discussion.