Northwestern State football players react to season’s cancellation

Players wonder ‘what’s next’ following last week’s cancellation
Published: Oct. 30, 2023 at 1:41 AM CDT
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NATCHITOCHES, La. (KSLA) - “They came in and said, ‘People grieve different. Takes people longer to grieve.’ Stuff like that, " says Northwestern State safety Cadillac Rhone. “So, they just felt like they needed to cancel the season because people we’re still grieving [Ronnie Caldwell].”

After six weeks of play the 2023 season came to a close, seemingly as fast as it started, with one conversation from the university to the Demon football family.

“The [Athletic Director] came in, Coach [Brad] Laird came in, " says Northwestern State wide receiver, Micah Jernigan. “[Athletic Director] just told us, ‘We talked to the Southland Conference because of the [Ronnie Caldwell] situation.’ A lot of stuff going on. Then Coach Laird came in and he gave his goodbye. After that, it was like, ‘Where do we go from here?’

It’s a question that many of the Demons are asking themselves just weeks after teammate Ronnie Caldwell’s tragic passing, and seeing their peers lace up the cleats on Saturdays.

“I need that structure in my life, especially during this time of grief, " says Tyler Vander Waal, Northwestern State quarterback. “I need to be around other people that are going through the same thing as me, to kind of take my mind off things.”

“I don’t want any of my brothers in the streets because there’s nothing to do now, " says Jernigan.

Despite the recent discussion, players noticed something was off just days before.

“After the Southeastern game, " says Jernigan. “We didn’t practice the whole week for McNeese until Wednesday. It was optional. Everybody was like, ‘Is the season canceled?’

Just like the hardship faced each week on the gridiron, these players are forced to endure the same off of it.

“My parents, they always told me that adversity is going to hit, " says Rhone. “So when it hits, you just got to keep your head down. Got to keep working. So, my mindset is, ‘You got to go to work.’