Always a celebrated component of Louisiana athletics, the New Orleans Pelicans recently showed their support for their neighboring communities by donating $100,000 to Nicholls State University for hurricane relief, according to the school.
The large donation, which was announced by the team at an open practice held on Nicholls campus, is set to help members of the larger Nicholls community recover from the devastating Hurricane Ida after a majority of the service region of the university was affected by the August 29th storm. As a result of Ida’s damaging winds and floodwaters, many student-athletes were dispersed across the country to several states where they gathered at host universities to practice for the upcoming athletic season.
Despite the many challenges they faced, these student-athletes kept the competitive spirit of Colonel athletics alive and remained focused in these new settings. One Sports Illustrated article recounted how the coaching staff of the Nicholls State Colonels men’s basketball team secured temporary homes for 16 players and coaches to sleep, eat, and practice amid damages sustained in the parish.
Coach Austin Claunch told Kevin Sweeney of SI, “let’s see if we can get somewhere quickly, and we can make it like a 2–3 week training camp and really benefit from it, almost like a team retreat,” showing the optimism of Nicholls’ coaching staff in the face of disaster.
The $100,000 donated by the New Orleans Pelicans will help to counterbalance some of the unexpected costs that the university had experienced to keep their athletic teams working and practicing together in Ida’s aftermath.
Dr. Jay Clune, President of Nicholls State University, said of the gift from the NBA organization, “we are so grateful for generous partners like the New Orleans Pelicans for coming to our aid in a time of need. This donation will benefit not only student-athletes, but also many of our students who lost homes in this storm. This will help so many students continue to succeed in the face of adversity.”
The announcement of the donation was made public as the New Orleans Pelicans held their annual open practice on Saturday, October 16 at the David R. Stopher Gymnasium, which is located on the campus of Nicholls State University. The open practice offered Pelicans fans a first-hand opportunity to get an inside look at the 2021-2022 team and to show their support for the South Louisiana communities that were directly impacted by Hurricane Ida.
Tickets for the event were primarily limited to schools and organizations located in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes that were directly affected by Ida with a particular focus on local high school basketball teams, first responders and youth-centered organizations. Tickets were distributed by the Nicholls State University Athletic Department, who distributed available tickets on behalf of the Pelicans.
Pelicans Governor, Gayle Benson, said of the event, “as South Louisiana continues to rebuild after the devastation caused by Hurricane Ida, our organization remains steadfast on providing resources to help these impacted communities recover. Our players, coaches, and staff could not be more excited to show our support for South Louisiana and put on a great show at open practice. I also want to thank Nicholls State University for graciously opening their facilities and hosting this event.”
Specifically, when speaking about the Pelicans’ donation to Nicholls, team governor Gayle Benson said, “it brings thePelicans family great joy to contribute to the Nicholls State University hurricane relief fund. Our partners at Nicholls did a fabulous job of hosting our open practice this past weekend and we are appreciative of the hurricane relief work their team is doing to help support students in the community. We must continue to support those impacted by Hurricane Ida’s destruction.”
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