by Angie Kay Dilmore
Clerc Bertrand has loved sports for as long as she can remember. Born and raised in Pickering, La., she and her three younger brothers played kickball, baseball, and basketball in their front yard. At Anacoco High School, she participated in basketball, softball, track, and cross country. Bertrand ran track and cross country for Lamar University on a full athletic scholarship. She majored in Exercise Science and intended to continue her education and become a physical therapist, but life took her running down a different road.
After college graduation in 2008, she worked and raced for Brooks (running shoes and apparel) in Colorado, and later worked as a tech rep and sales rep in several Northwest states while continuing to race. She even took a stab at the 2012 Summer Olympics! In 2014, she returned to Louisiana and worked for a non-profit called Athletes for Hope, where she connected LSU teams with philanthropic causes. After short stints with Rowdy Sports Properties and Specialized Bicycles, she accepted the position of Executive Director of McNeese Athletic Foundation (MAF) in 2020. Her role includes procuring corporate sponsorships, fostering donor relations, and elevating the MAF experience through events like Cowboys’ Country Fest. “My dream job has always been to be a part of a team that makes my community and the place we call home better,” says 35-year-old Bertrand. “I want to leave this world better than I found it. Being a part of MAF is that opportunity to leave a positive impact for years to come.”
Thrive magazine recently caught up with this on-the-go wife, mother, and champion for McNeese athletics, and she shared her plans for MAF, what she loves most about her job, and how the Southwest Louisiana community has awed and inspired her.
What is your vision for MAF?
Our vision at MAF is to create a McNeese Experience Second to None. We believe that experiences create connections, and we thrive on connections in Louisiana. MAF provides financial platforms to build and sustain nationally relevant athletic programs. These goals go hand in hand with President Dr. Daryl Burckel’s First Choice Campaign. We want our fans, sponsors, and community to “Experience the Team.” We want the community to be in the huddle with us. This will be the first full year where we have corporate sponsorships under the MAF umbrella. Our goal is to raise one million dollars this fiscal year through corporate sponsorships, donations, and MAF experiences. MAF memberships are available for $150 a year and include access to MAF-only experiences.
What do you love about your role at MAF? Goodness, where to start. Our community is incredible. The McNeese team is incredible. We are all marching toward one beat with the same goal of rebuilding not to the status quo but to something long lasting that will positively impact generations. We believe in the Southwest Louisiana community and in McNeese State University. I love being part of something bigger than myself. The greatest challenge is prioritizing opportunities that will have the largest impacts at the time each is needed most.
What can you tell us about McNeese’s upcoming football season?
We are excited to bring a host of new experiences to this football season. From our Friday night block parties to new seating and gameday opportunities, we believe this season will be the beginning of the rebirth of cowboy football.
What has surprised you the most since you moved to Lake Charles and started work at MAF?
I’ve always known that Louisiana and our community is kind and resilient, but what I have witnessed post-Hurricanes Laura and Delta is mind blowing. People’s generosity and true commitment to bringing McNeese and this community back stronger is like nothing I have ever seen. The way people give not just money, but time – you would never know that they don’t have a home or that they lost their businesses. People don’t show their plight here; they just want to know how they can help your family.
Tell us a bit about your personal life.
My husband, Andre, and I married on October 8, 2016. He is from Elton, Louisiana and graduated from McNeese. He pole vaulted at McNeese and we competed on the same summer track team when we were younger. Our son, William Malcolm, aka Liam, was born August 30, 2017. He is named after both his paternal great-grandfathers. These two men were who we hope Liam embodies as an adult.
Your name — is there a story there?
Yes, Clerc (pronounced Claire) is a family name that has been passed down for generations as a middle name. It was a great, great, great grandmother’s maiden name – LeClerc.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We have rebranded MAF and want everyone to know that academics and athletics work together. On our logo, the horse and rider aggressively run forward. We have changed directions and are running towards our vison for McNeese Athletics – To Create a McNeese Experience Second to None.