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The Heartbeat of NSU Athletics - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

The Heartbeat of NSU Athletics

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NATCHITOCHES, La. -

He has enough conference championship rings to go on both his fingers and his toes, but you won't see the name Harris Ray Wilson in the Northwestern State record books. However, ask anyone affiliated with NSU and they know all about Coach Black, who inspires the Demons everyday, just by being himself.

He doesn't have a prolific athletic career and he's never even worn a Demon uniform. But if you've ever been to a Northwestern State sporting event, chances are you've seen Coach Black.

"This is what he lives for. He loves Northwestern State, all of it," NSU tight end Tucker Nims said.

"He's a demon at heart. He's been around this program for nearly 20 years," NSU head coach Jay Thomas added.

"I call him the institution because that's what he is. He is this institution," NSU baseball head coach Lane Burroughs explained.

Harris Ray Wilson was born and raised in Natchitoches and at a young age, diagnosed with autism. But once he stepped foot on campus, there was no going back.

"I was sitting at my table at home, telling my mom and dad I want to become a coach. God gave me the ability to coach," Wilson said.

"He'll outlast all of us," NSU Athletic Director Greg Burke added.

Many people don't know his real name because Wilson's dad gave him the nickname Coach Black early on. Black says he feels like coaching in his blood, and he doesn't have a favorite sport. NSU says he's just an integral part to every program.

"He's great with recruits. When a recruit comes in, he's just awesome with them. Every recruit is his guy. He's always like coach we got this young man or that young man," McConathy explained.

"He's actually told me about meetings that day that I have forgotten about. He always knows all of our players and knows our rotation and is always real interested in what we're doing," Burroughs acknowledged.

"He helps me with the practice schedule. He'll get it around to all of the coaches," Thomas added.

And Coach Black always makes sure new faces feel welcome at NSU.

"The first day I was announced as the new head coach in 1999, he came up to me and he kept talking to me about everything about myself. I was in shock that a guy could already know so much about Mike McConathy, the new head coach at Northwestern," MccOnathy recalled.

"I'll never forget I met Coach Black and before I could even say hello, he knew my name, my high school, what position I played, all of my high school statistics, my parents names, and my little sister's names. He could pretty much tell you everything about yourself. Black really does know everything about his players. And that's the first time I met Coach Black. It really kind of freaked me out at first," Nims remembered.

"You don't want to get on the wrong side of him. If you get on the wrong side of him, you might get fired," Thomas warned.

"When I say you're fired, you're fired," Wilson joked.

"I think I've gotten cut four or five times. I've gotten demoted from first team to third team I don't know how many times. I couldn't ride the bus home from Alabama-Birmingham, I don't know why," Nims questioned.

"Because he snores too much," Wilson answered.

"He has cut numerous players and fired me a few times during the season last year. We weren't having a great year so he's showed me the door a couple times, but he'll let you back in," Burroughs explained.

"Regardless if you're having a bad or good day, when you get a chance to talk to Coach Black, whether he's having a bad or good day, he always makes you laugh because he's always going to have a good time because he loves being out there more than anything. And he really loves us and we really love him, we really do," Nims added.

Coach Black's inspiration and influence goes beyond just good jokes.

"Black puts everything into perspective, who makes you smile, who makes you chuckle, who makes you come up with a joke whether it's about yourself or about him. It really helps takes an edge off a rewarding yet demanding business," Burke elaborated.

"It's a great lesson in loyalty when you look at Coach Black because he's for everybody and he wants to see everybody win. And the things he does for people here, the way he always makes people feel good is very important and there's not a dollar figure what you could put on what Coach Black means to Northwestern," McConathy said.

"He has that quality about him, he brings that joy to everybody," Thomas added.

"He's just a normal person around here. He's more than a normal person, he's Coach Black. It's understood," Nims explained.

"I'm going to stay coaching until god tells me it's time to quit," Wilson affirmed.

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