Fans show Lion pride at fundraiser

roomie and fans

Leslie Buie, a Southeastern alumna, and her husband Brian Buie strike their best
“Lion Up” pose with Roomie the Lion. The Buies are huge Lion fans and enjoy
attending events to support the university and athletics. The Lion’s Roar / Megan Ferrando

With the 2014 fall sports starting back up, dedicated Lion fans joined together to raise money for athletics. 

The  Lion Nation Celebration took place Saturday, August 23 in the University Center, offering a new way to kick start the season and raise money.

“It’s a good way to kick off the year. It’s right before football season starts [and] right before school starts,” said Cody Gougler, assistant to the assistant director of athletic development. “Basically all proceeds tonight will benefit student-athletes’ scholarships, help build new facilities [and] help increase coaching salaries. It will do anything and everything to help the growing of Southeastern athletics.”

The celebration included a barbeque dinner, silent auction and live auction. Auction items ranged from a small, white puppy to a signed football helmet to a romantic night out in New Orleans.

“I’ve been bidding and browsing all the items. I have quite a few on my watch list,” said Jamie Hargis, Hammond local and Lion fan. “I love the way things have taken off recently. I love how the community is back with the Lions.”

cheerleader with puppy

Cheerleader Sean Reliford holds a puppy donated for
auction at the Lion Nation Celebration. 
The Lion’s Roar / Megan Ferrando

Those attending were encouraged to wear their Lion colors, and the center was filled with green and gold. Longtime fans expressed their love for supporting the university as their reason for coming.

 “We support everything that Southeastern does, especially around athletics,” said Bettye Magee, alumna. “We like supporting all the teams.”

Many noted how far athletics has gone since last year’s successful season. 

“We have season tickets to the Lion’s, and we come to every football game, some basketball games and a lot of other events,” said Leslie Buie, a Lion fan. “We know several of the kids, and we love what Jay Artigues is doing with the whole athletic program. 

We just love coming to the football games, see the kids progressing.”

Ken Magee, former football player and coach who helped return football to Southeastern, expressed the awe he felt at seeing the Lion’s go so far in the 2013-2014 season. 

“I played here, coached here and now I’m a fan. We won the conference championship in 61, and that was the last one we’ve won before last year,” said Ken Magee. “It’s unbelievable. We kept thinking we were dreaming. We never thought we’d see anything like that.”

Fans celebrated last year’s season, while generating hope and excitement for this year.

“The excitement that was created last year has carried over into the whole community, and that’s something that’s very exciting to me,” said Ken Magee. “I have high, high hopes [about this season]. I’m a realist.  I’ve coached for a long time so I know things don’t always turn out the way people think they will, but I’m optimistic for this year.”

The Lion’s football season begins Saturday, August 30 at 7 p.m. in Strawberry Stadium against Jacksonville. For more information about Southeastern athletics, visit