FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Northern Arizona women's soccer head coach Andre Luciano has always preached to his players that they are not just Lumberjacks for four or five years while in Flagstaff, but they are Lumberjacks for life. This program is more than just soccer to Luciano but rather being a part of a family that dates back to his time playing soccer at Indiana University and Yavapai College.
"It is way more than just soccer," said Luciano. "It's about being a part of a family and our alumni is close to the current players."
The 2010 class came up with the motto and now the program motto has taken the form of a hash tag on Twitter.
Assistant coach Carolyn Savage was a part of that 2010 class that started preaching "Jacks for Life" and now she is living that motto. After being a part of three Big Sky titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances, Savage went back home to Anchorage, Alaska to continue her soccer career in a coaching role. Savage took her success to A.J. Dimond High School leading the team to an undefeated season and claiming the Alaska State High School Championship.
Then the former Lumberjack came back to Flagstaff to be an assistant coach at her alma mater.
"We always talked about how we are Jacks for life and now I am living it," said Savage. "It is extremely rewarding to be back with this program. Being back in Flagstaff it feels like I have never left."
Savage was a senior when the current seniors on the team, Alana D'Onofrio, Lauren Weaver, Elinor Priest, Shawnee Morgan and Jordan Stenger were just freshman at Northern Arizona. Savage felt welcomed when D'Onofrio came up to Savage during preseason and expressed how much they were going to enjoy having her back in the program.
This year, the Lumberjacks have added 15 newcomers to their family and are starting to build that friendship that will last a lifetime.
"Jacks4Life is about being proud of who you play for," said freshman defender Danny Muniz. "Past players have preached about being there for your sisters through everything and help each other outside of soccer and we do that for each other."
Former Northern Arizona women's soccer star Sam Monahan was able to continue her playing career overseas for FC Honka Naiset in Finland where she has been playing for two years. Even from Finland, Monahan still checks in on her Lumberjacks and keeps in contact with Luciano and former players.
"Jacks4life to me basically means family," said Monahan. "Even though alums move on and new freshman come through every year we will always represent the same thing and always will have that family connection. When you can develop that bond between alumni and current athletes it truly is special because we are always supporting one another."
After her season concludes every November, Monahan returns home to the state of Arizona heads back to Flagstaff to work out with her former head coach.
"It really means a lot to me to have that kind of support from Andre," said Monahan. "He was a huge part in my development as a player and still is a positive mentor for me so I am truly thankful and happy that he is still a part of my growth."
Luciano has developed a program that has been successful on the field and has brought women together to become Jacks for Life.