Fatal shooting of Northwestern football player causes Nicholls-Northwestern game to be canceled

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image courtesy of Northwestern State University

Nicholls State University Athletics announced Thursday afternoon the football team’s home game against Northwest State scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14 has been canceled.

The cancelation is due to the recent passing of Ronnie Caldwell, a junior safety on the Northwestern State football team. Caldwell, 21, came to Northwestern State after transferring from Tyler Junior College, following the 2021 football season. He passed away early Thursday morning.

“We are saddened by the news and our thoughts are with the Northwestern State program.  At this time, our main focus is supporting Northwestern State as they navigate this heartbreaking tragedy.” said Jonathan Terrell, Nicholls Vice President of Collegiate Athletics and Athletics Director. “As we always say here, we’re in this together, and that extends to our friends and colleagues at Northwestern State.”

“The Northwestern State family has suffered a tremendous loss,” head football coach Brad Laird said. “Ronnie Caldwell was a young man who had a bright future ahead of him on or off the football field. He was our voice in the locker room. When Ronnie spoke, others listened. The respect our football team had for Ronnie was evident. He did not play a snap this year because of an injury, but his voice resonated with every member of our team from the first player to the 115th on our roster.

“Our hearts are broken and ache for Ronnie’s family and friends. His loss will be felt here at Northwestern State, in Natchitoches and in his home. We will treasure the time we spent with Ronnie and the memories we made, and we will hold him and his family in our hearts as we attempt to move forward in the days and weeks ahead.”

He appeared in all 11 games in 2022, starting 10, and finished seventh on the team in tackles. He had yet to play in a game in 2023 because of an injury sustained in preseason camp.

Despite the injury, Caldwell traveled with the team throughout the 2023 season, serving as a de facto defensive assistant coach, communicating with coaches in the press box via headset during games.

Caldwell twice had six tackles in a game in 2022 and added a career-high two tackles for loss in the Demons’ Nov. 5 win at Texas A&M-Commerce. Following the season, Caldwell was named to the Southland Conference Commissioner’s Fall Honor Roll, which honors student-athletes who record at least a 3.0 grade point average during their semester of competition.

A business administration major from Austin, Texas, Caldwell spent the summer of 2023 helping coach a local youth baseball team.

“We are stunned and saddened by the sudden loss of Ronnie Caldwell,” Director of Athletics Kevin Bostian said. “Ronnie was a devoted teammate, friend, brother and son. His teammates, coaches and staff members who had the pleasure of knowing Ronnie will remember his ever-present smile and the way he could light up any room when he walked in. Words truly cannot express the heartache we feel for Ronnie, his family, his teammates and our university community.”

Decisions regarding Northwestern State’s remaining football games will be made as the season progresses.