DONALDSONVILLE, LA (WAFB) - When LSU takes on Florida University Saturday, a retired librarian from Donaldsonville will be in the national spotlight. Michele Macloud is being recognized for the impact she's had on the life of an up and coming LSU football player.
He can often be seen sporting the number 10 on a purple and gold jersey during football season. LSU wide receiver Stephan Sullivan knows how to light up Death Valley, but he also knows how to brighten faces in the cafeteria of his alma mater, Donaldsonville High School.
"It just feels good to be back, back home," said Sullivan.
Sullivan has a bright future in front of him, on and off the field, but he says things were different when he walked the halls of Donaldsonville High. "I didn't even have interest in graduating, because when I first got here, I was like, 'I'm in school. I'm just trying to blow by,'" said Sullivan.
This was Sullivan's attitude until one day during his sophomore year, during one of his daily trips to the school library. Former librarian, Michele Macloud, says he would drop by to visit with his teammates.
"He's such a tall person. He really couldn't sneak into a room, so when he would come in, I didn't really know his name. At first, I would just call him six foot six," Macloud said. "I would just ask him questions, and at first, he really wouldn't say much."
"She just kept asking me about my grades and I'm like, 'Okay, stop asking me about my grades. I don't talk about grades,' and she kept asking," said Macloud.
That persistence paid off. Sullivan says it's what got him here today. Macloud says when Sullivan told her he wanted to play college football, she did a little research and learned he would have to hit the books hard to make that happen. Before she knew it, Sullivan's visits to the library had purpose.
"He may come in there and sit at the counter. I would say, 'You know, you have a biology project you need to make an A on,'" said Macloud.
All that work paid off. It didn't take long for LSU to take notice. "I was at basketball practice and my football coach called me, and I was a sophomore and he was like, 'LSU just called me and they want you there for junior day,'" said Sullivan.
"He called and said, 'Les Miles wants me to come to LSU tomorrow,' and the first thing I said was, 'What are you going to wear,'" said Macloud.
The rest was history. Macloud says he committed to a future at LSU and has been scoring big ever since, but he has not forgotten the woman who helped him get there. "She was my best friend in high school. I told her some things I would never tell my family members. It's a relationship nobody can break, a bond nobody can break," said Sullivan.
That bond has been recognized by the SEC Nation television show through a program called Extra Yard for Teachers. Sullivan and Macloud's story earned DHS $10,000 to buy classroom supplies. His former football coach, Bryan Richardson, says he always asks his players when they graduate to leave their mark.
"I always ask them, 'What are you going to bring back to Donaldsonville High School?' And Stephen lives by that mantra. He couldn't wait to give back to Donaldsonville," said Richardson.
Principal Marvin Evans couldn't be prouder. "We always look to our athletes to be our student leaders, so when you have young men like Stephan, they set the tone for the entire school," said Evans.
Sullivan is leading by example. It's his hope that his story will inspire young athletes struggling to find their way. "It was a long journey, but I never gave up. It was a long journey, so never give up," said Sullivan.
Sullivan is majoring in communications and says he would like to play for the Miami Dolphins one day.
The SEC Nation show airs on the SEC Network from 9 to 11 a.m.