Our Parish Our Pride: Stormy and Denise Lee's Story

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September 15, 2017
You don’t have to be a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University to be a loyal fan – a fact which Stormy and Denise Lee fully embody. Though neither of the Lees hold a degree from Southeastern, both have become fixtures at Southeastern games, earning them the nickname, “the Loyal Lions.”

Stormy grew up in the area and was involved with Southeastern through his lengthy career with the Hammond Fire Department, where he retired as assistant chief three years ago. One of his greatest achievements, he said, was helping to get the Southeastern firetruck painted in its signature green and gold design. Denise came to work at Southeastern in 1985 and was generally involved in the workings of campus, retiring six years ago from the nursing department.

But their deep love of the university was born at a press conference in Strawberry Stadium when the football program was reinstated in May of 2002.

“Standing on the field, when I looked over and saw all the grown men that were involved in bringing it back with tears in their eyes, I knew this is something our family was going to be active in every year,” she said. “They were so touched because we had lost it for several years, and I knew one day it would mean the same thing to us. From that day forward we have been active football fans.”

The Lees, their children and seven other families have held the same tailgate spot in Friendship Circle since 2009, providing a smorgasbord of food and entertaining anyone who wants to stop by – including the out-of-town families of the football players, Lionettes and the cheerleaders.

“We really enjoy going to the games and tailgating,” Stormy said. “We meet people every weekend – year after year we meet a lot of the players’ families. It’s a great time for us and the community.”

This year an Ohio family whose older son played for Southeastern and whose younger son now plays for Bethune-Cookman, asked to join the Loyal Lions at the tailgate for the Southeastern vs. Bethune-Cookman game.

“They were ones who always came from out of town,” Denise said. “They had seven family members and they brought Cane’s chicken. I told them, ‘You may be in a Bethune-Cookman T-shirt, but we know you’re a Lion at heart.’”  

The Lees have raised their children, Jacob Lee and Rainey Lee Mikel, to love Southeastern, and are proud to tell you their daughter and daughter-in-law, Lauren Lee, are both Southeastern graduates. Jacob has followed his father’s footsteps in joining the Hammond Fire Department. Their son-in-law, Travis Mikel, is the assistant football coach for Southeastern, and he and Rainey are raising their son Cam to be a little Lion as well.

“We are so proud to be a part of something that has gotten – and wants to get – the whole community involved,” Denise said. “This university is a selling point for our city and our parish. The same thing with Southeastern athletics and tailgating and football. This is when the City of Hammond can shine, this is when Southeastern can shine and this is when Tangipahoa Parish can shine.”

Want to share your Southeastern story? Email Greater Hammond Chamber President and CEO Melissa Bordelon at melissa.bordelon@hammondchamber.org.

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