NATCHITOCHES – More than a half-century after the most remarkable football season in modern history at Northwestern State, members of the 1966 unbeaten team continue making an impact at their alma mater.
A 50-year reunion held last October during NSU’s Homecoming celebration brought about three dozen players, coaches, staff members and family members together again. The incredible feats of the 9-0 Demons, who finished the season ranked No. 1 nationally and Gulf States Conference champions, were rekindled.
A lasting tribute to their head coach, Jack Clayton, was also strengthened. A scholarship fund established by team members in 1996 to honor their coach has steadily grown in the past 20 years.
After the January passing of Mrs. Clayton, the endowment was renamed “The Jack and Nellie Clayton Memorial Scholarship” to honor the couple whose impact on hundreds of Demon football players, and thousands of NSU students, was immense.
Gifts to enhance the Clayton Scholarship were received during and after Homecoming weekend, said director of athletics Greg Burke, who steered establishment of the endowment 20 years ago. Since then, each fall a Clayton Scholarship grant recognizes a Demon football senior whose contributions to the team are significant and accomplishments off the field are impressive.
The principle of the Clayton Scholarship Endowment is over $100,000, said Burke.
Overseeing the 1966 Demons’ reunion was associate athletics director Dr. Haley Taitano, who was impressed by the strong bond that remains between 1966 players, coaches and staff.
“The 50-year reunion of the 1966 football team was something truly special to experience,” said Taitano. “Their generosity and willingness to give back on behalf of their team and beloved coach is something that we haven’t quite seen before. You can tell that they share a special bond and hold NSU near and dear to their hearts, even now, 50 years later.”
Over $3,000 was donated to enhance the scholarship by 1966 team members and family members.
That group of donors included David Centanni, Dick Concilio, David Dawson, Shelley Dickie, Steve Gaspard, Larry Gracie, Don Guidry, John Hall, Susan Long, David Lovich, Lawrence Nugent, Al Phillips, Gary Pittman, Mike Pool, John Porche, John Ropp, William Rowe, David Smith, Herbie Smith, and Glenn Talbert.
For information on The Jack and Nellie Clayton Scholarship, contact Taitano at 318-357-4278 or at [email protected] by e-mail.