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College athletics: Philanthropic Fees’ gift pushes NSU’s Sports Performance Center project to benchmark

By Jason Pugh, Northwestern State Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations 

NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State Athletic Department’s proposed Sports Performance Center hit another benchmark Tuesday.

Thanks to a $100,000 gift from NSU alumni Kelvin and Stacy Fee, the Sports Performance Center projected has now cleared the $1 million mark in private donations. The Fees announced an initial $50,000 contribution with the other half to be paid in installments.

Northwestern State has designated the Sports Performance Center as its top new capital outlay project. NSU Athletics is seeking $6 million in capital outlay monies and continues to raise private donations for matching funds.

“We’re getting closer and closer to the finish line and making this project a reality,” said Northwestern State Director of Athletics Greg Burke. “There will be no let up as we move forward and continue to engage alumni and former athletes who have the interest and ability to become part of something significant for our athletic program and university.”

The donation toward the Sports Performance Center tapped into another level of generosity from Kelvin Fee, who with his late wife, Pat, established an endowed athletic scholarship in 2007 that now sits at the $50,000 level.

Kelvin Fee was a four-year javelin letterman at Northwestern State, who also competed under legendary Demon track and field coach Leon Johnson when Johnson coached at DeRidder High School. Fee credited Johnson with turning him into a javelin thrower during Fee’s high school career.

“I’ve benefited from my Northwestern State experience throughout my life,” said Fee, who is now the executive vice president at MetroNet in Chicago. “I’ve been blessed and always wanted to pass it along to someone else. Greg and I have talked about this for a while. We took a tour of the fieldhouse a week or so ago, and it was the first time I’ve been there in about 35 years.

“The weight room was pretty much the same weight room and training room that was here when I was. I want to see Northwestern be successful in sports. To do that, you have to have facilities and things that help you recruit kids. We need to upgrade ours. I hope others feel the same way and do something to help.”

Added Burke: “Kelvin and Stacy are greatly appreciated for their generosity, which continues the momentum for this game-changing project that will greatly impact student-athletes now and in the future. The passion they have for their alma mater is remarkable and is reflected in their support for other areas of the NSU athletic program in addition to the Sports Performance Center project.”

In addition to Kelvin Fee’s athletic career, Stacy Fee is an NSU alumna whose family ties run deep on more than one Northwestern State campus.

Stacy Fee’s father was a biology professor and registrar on the Natchitoches campus before becoming the provost of Northwestern State’s Fort Polk campus.

“All I knew was Northwestern,” she said. “My dad was also an academic advisor for the athletes, and they loved him. I didn’t think twice about (donating). That’s my home. That’s my school. I’m proud that we are able to help Northwestern State athletics.”

The sprawling strength and conditioning facility, which will be constructed on the back end of the Athletic Fieldhouse, will include a new 11,600 square foot weight room with space for more than 100 student-athletes, a 25-foot artificial turf pad, a new nutrition center, student-athlete lounge area and offices for the strength staff. 

The second phase of the project will convert the current weight room into a high-tech rehabilitation center along with other sports medicine upgrades. 

The third phase will be the renovation of the current “Eugene Christmas Training Room.”

“It is exciting to see momentum for this transformational project continue to grow,” Burke said. “Having a strength and conditioning center that will be the best among Southland Conference members, past and present, will be a game changer on the recruiting front and in the everyday lives of our student-athletes and coaches.”

Contributions can be made directly to the Sports Performance Center project by visiting https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/Victorious or by contacting Burke at 318-357-5251 or burkeg@nsula.edu.

— Featured graphic by Brad Welborn, NSU Sports Information 

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