Northwestern State’s head coach has resigned, and the team has canceled its season after the tragic shooting death of a beloved player earlier this month.
On Thursday, Northwestern State announced that the remainder of the season would not be played so they could focus on “the mental health and wellbeing of its student-athletes” after NSU player Ronnie Caldwell was shot near the school’s Louisiana campus.
Family was a driving force in Ronnie Caldwell Jr.’s life.
— NSU Football (@NSUDemonsFB) October 21, 2023
“While our instinct was to return to the field of play following Caldwell’s death,” said NSU President Dr. Marcus Jones. “We’ve since learned that the hurt on our team was too deep. Now it is in the best interest of our players, coaches, and staff to pause and to take this time to mourn, to heal, and to support Ronnie’s family.”
The team has played only one game since Caldwell’s death, a 37-20 loss to Southeastern Louisiana on October 21. However, the game’s highlight was the tribute both teams held in honor of Caldwell.
Really solid gesture by both teams to commemorate NSU player Ronnie Caldwell, who was tragically fatally shot last week.
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) October 20, 2023
NSU did not feel the need to complete the remaining four games on their schedule after memorializing Caldwell.
Particularly hard hit was NSU head coach Brad Laird, who resigned from his position due to the emotional strain of the loss.
“Due to the loss of Ronnie and the emotional burden it has caused me, I don’t feel I can give my all to these players or this program,” Laird explained. “Any coach will tell you that their players become like family, so the loss of Ronnie was like losing a son. I love this program and this university, and I know it will persevere and move forward with the competitive spirit that is at the core of our DNA.”
Caldwell was 21 years old.