Northwestern State University has made the difficult decision to cancel the rest of the 2023 football season in order to prioritize the mental health and well-being of its players. This decision comes in the wake of the tragic shooting death of Demons safety Ronnie Caldwell, which occurred at an apartment complex near the campus on October 12. The Natchitoches Police Department confirmed this heartbreaking news earlier this month.
Following Caldwell’s death, Northwestern State initially canceled the Demons’ October 14 game against Nicholls. However, they resumed play on October 19 with a 37-20 loss to SE Louisiana.
In a statement, NSU President Dr. Marcus Jones acknowledged that while the team initially wanted to return to the field, they have realized that the grief and pain among the players is too deep. Taking the time to mourn, heal, and support Ronnie’s family is now the top priority for the players, coaches, and staff.
It is important to remember Ronnie Caldwell, a beloved member of our community who we dearly miss. For more information about his tragic passing, you can read the article titled “Northwestern State football player killed in shooting, team cancels game.”
The Demons’ season now concludes with a record of 0-6. Despite the disappointment of not finishing the season, Northwestern State remains optimistic about the future of its football program. Director of Athletics Kevin Bostian expressed gratitude for the support shown during this challenging time.
Brad Laird, the head coach of the Demons for six years, has resigned from his position due to the emotional burden caused by Caldwell’s death. Weston Glaser, the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, will step in as interim head coach. Laird stated that the loss of Ronnie felt like losing a son, emphasizing his love for the program and university.
The university acknowledged the significance of Laird’s contributions to Northwestern State football throughout his career and expressed gratitude for his dedication to the team.
Caldwell was a transfer from Tyler Junior College and played in all 11 of Northwestern State’s games last season. Despite missing the first five games of this season due to a preseason injury, he had a total of 42 tackles last year, ranking seventh on the team. Aside from his on-field contributions, Caldwell also served as a de facto defensive assistant coach for the team this season and spent his offseason coaching a local youth baseball team.
The death of Ronnie Caldwell is still under investigation.
Contributing to this article: Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: “Northwestern State football cancels 2023 season after player death“
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