Saturday night lights shine down upon two teams vying for their next win. But for the home team, this game is more meaningful than others.
Every year during Homecoming, thousands of Northwestern State students and alumni partake in daily events that conclude with them in the stands on Saturday night screaming and cheering the Demons to victory.
”It’s honestly more [exciting] than any other game, mainly because all of the alumni come back,” Bobby Chan-Chan, senior wide receiver said. “It’s a great atmosphere and we look forward to it every year.”
Each year, football alumni speak at NSU, giving words of wisdom to the team throughout the week – some of which have stayed in the minds of each player.
“I really appreciate the old teammates from the ’80s and ’90s for coming back and talking with us and telling us their traditions and their memories here,” senior offensive lineman Korliss Johnson said.
The words that resonate with senior wide receiver Cameron Lazare pertain to appreciating and savoring the moment.
“Enjoy the moment, because you can’t go back and grab it. You have to make the most of it and leave it all out on the field so when you go home at night, you’re satisfied with yourself,” he said.
Junior offensive lineman Chris Zirkle connected with a different piece of wisdom from his fellow teammates related to the team as a whole.
“The [alumni] say, ‘you all look better now than when we were here. We can see a change [in the way they play],’” he said.
Homecoming week is loaded with various student activities, most of which the NSU Demon football team cannot partake in due to preparation for the big game.
“Looking from the outside, we might want to do it, but we know we have a bigger task at hand,” Lazare said.
Performing in LipSync, attending the bonfire and participating in other student activities may not be possible for the players, but there is one activity they can partake in: the parade.
“It’s like a Mardi Gras parade,” Lazare said. “We’re throwing candy and beads to little kids on the street. We might get off [the float] – even though we’re not supposed to get off – and give them some [candy] and shake hands.”
While each player may have different favorite parts of the week, each looks forward to the “fan base and support,” as Zirkle said.
“No matter what happens, it brings everyone together,” Chan-Chan said. “Natchitoches is a college town, and everyone comes [to support].”
The homecoming game against University of Central Arkansas will kick off Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. in Turpin Stadium.