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NSU Football – Demons serve community on Waddell Day

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NSU Sports Information
22 March 2010

NATCHITOCHES — Northwestern State football players and coaches fanned out across the Natchitoches area throughout the day Monday to honor the memory of a former Demon by performing community service and outreach on the sixth annual “Chris Waddell Day” observance.

Northwestern football team members visited eight local schools, the Natchitoches Nursing Home and the local Boys and Girls Club to pass along positive messages and encouragement, reflecting the impact that Waddell had on teammates and others on campus during his all-too-short time at NSU in 2003-04.

Waddell was a highly respected redshirt freshman offensive lineman from New Orleans-Holy Cross High School who passed away suddenly March 1, 2004, the day before he was to have begun his first spring practice with the Demons. He was an invited walk-on who practiced and worked out with the varsity team as a true freshman. He was an unselfish, hard-working teammate and a serious student. He conducted himself in a way that reflected positively on his teammates and his family.

Monday, Demon players and coaches gave motivational talks to school children who are approaching key standardized tests, while also taking time to dye Easter eggs at a Trinity Episcopal Day School with children ages 3-5 and spending time with seniors at the Natchitoches Nursing Home. Waddell Day wrapped up Monday evening with players urging Boys and Girls Club members to get involved with extracurricular activities, to make academic performance a very high priority, and to live a positive lifestyle.

Waddell Day coordinator Todd Cooley, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at NSU, was appreciative of the opportunities provided the Demons.

“I think our kids have done a lot of good today, because they’ve been given great opportunities by the administrators at these schools and locations, and because we all continue to be inspired by the life of Chris Waddell,” he said. “This was a young man who made the most of each and every day and chased his dreams at Northwestern. We are proud to do this every year in his honor. I first heard the story last year and I know it’s something I’ll carry with me forever.”

At Holy Cross, Waddell received recruiting attention from schools like Maryland, Boston College and Kentucky, but no offers, and he came to NSU determined to make a mark as a football player and a student. He was raised by a single-parent, his mother Celeste, a respiratory therapist at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

When he was a little boy, he was diagnosed with Kawasaki’s Syndrome, a rare heart condition that can lead to accelerated aging of the heart. He was put on medications and was eventually able to resume normal activities for a young boy. When he was 10, doctors told him mother there was no reason not to let him live a normal life and they had high hopes for him. He and his mother believed that he should live every day to its fullest, and he played four years of high school football without any problems.

Before he passed away, he had been working out with the Demons, practicing virtually every day, since camp opened the previous August. He wasn’t originally going to be invited to preseason camp, but a player dropped out just a day or two before reporting day, and Waddell was tremendously excited to get to be on the 90-man roster for preseason and get his college career started, although he knew 2003 was almost sure to be a redshirt season, as it turned out to be.

He took part in the 2004 offseason program. At the end of a light workout on a pleasant Monday afternoon the day before spring practice was to begin, he became sick and moved back away from the drills and was attended to by a trainer. He collapsed and passed away about an hour later at the hospital. An autopsy showed there was nothing anyone could have done. The Kawasaki Syndrome took its toll far ahead of any doctor’s projections.

His mother and other family members met with the team the next day. She told the team that “yesterday I had one son up here. Now I have a room full of you guys. Chris was here living his dream. I want you to carry that on for me and for Chris.”

The team created the Chris Waddell Award, which is presented annually to the walk-on player who best demonstrates an unselfish approach with a tremendous work ethic and strong leadership qualities, achieving beyond expectations on the field while setting a positive example for his teammates academically, socially and in the community.

The annual “Chris Waddell Day” began March 1, 2005, with a series of activities at schools and community centers involving the Demons with area children.

“We are proud to celebrate the life of Chris Waddell and to perpetuate the way he went about his life, by being a caring, unselfish, hard-working young man who did things the right way,” said NSU director of athletics Greg Burke. “His family, especially his mother Celeste, inspired us with their compassion for our players and coaches in the days after we lost Chris, and they’ve helped to inspire our young people to be great examples for children.”

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Written by demon53

March 24, 2010 at 4:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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