Building a home
The first time Ruble Encalade (BS ’94) stepped on the Nicholls State University campus, he felt at home.
Today, the Pointe à la Hache native is a consistent supporter of both Nicholls athletics and academics. He says he donates to help the university improve the Nicholls experience.
A former Nicholls Football player, Encalade says supporting academics is as important as supporting what happens on the field.
“I was a student-athlete. The student part comes first,” he says. “You have to realize when you go to college that the main purpose is to get an education. So I don’t want to support just one side of the house. I want to make sure that all have the opportunities and what they need to compete with students from larger universities.”
Encalade enrolled at Nicholls in 1990 to play football. The offensive tackle says in those years, the Colonels were not winning as frequently as they hoped. He credits the tough time for teaching him a lot of life lessons, and he is proud knowing that the Colonels worked hard and played with grit.
“We were always the underdog,” he says. “But even though wins were hard to come by, I don’t think anyone we played left the field thinking they pushed us over. We were a tenacious bunch.”
It was also a special time because sophomore year he met now athletic director and then quarterback, Jonathan “JT” Terrell. Terrell describes Encalade as a “class act” who is passionate for his Colonels.
“He gives back because he wants to see the next generation succeed with more than we had,” Terrell says. “I know he remembers the times we had, and he wants to give that same experience to someone else. I am grateful for people like Ruble who are die-hard Colonels through and through.”
Encalade is the environmental team lead for Shell Chemical LP, Geismar plant, and he donates through their Care program, which matches his charitable gifts. Encalade says he has supported the Nicholls Foundation, Alumni Association, Greek Life and issued a challenge gift during last year’s Give-N-Day.
He says he hopes to see others who can give more regularly, even if it is not hundreds of thousands, so that Nicholls can continue to rise.
“Years ago, the team’s highest hopes were a winning season or a conference title. Now, the Rebowe era has our ambition on winning it all,” he says. “Everyone in the state, even people out of state, recognize Nicholls is on the right track, academically and athletically. If Nicholls played any part of your life, you need to look back and see what you can give back.”
He now lives in Gonzales with his family, wife Lori and children Jude, 19, Alex, 16, and Ava, 14, and doesn’t make it to campus as often as he’d like. But anytime he comes to Thibodaux, it still feels like home. And as the campus continues to grow and the student experience gets better, it is gifts like Encalade’s that help others find their home at Nicholls State University.
– Cain Madden