Gonzaga Dedicates Soccer Field Overhaul - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Gonzaga Dedicates Soccer Field Overhaul

The Gonzaga Soccer field will hencefoth be dedicated to the Luger family for their contributions to the school. (Photo GU Athletics) The Gonzaga Soccer field will hencefoth be dedicated to the Luger family for their contributions to the school. (Photo GU Athletics)

by Gonzaga Athletics

SPOKANE, Wash. – On July 10, 2014, as World Cup soccer reached fever pitch, Gonzaga University celebrated the official dedication of Luger Field, a first-class soccer field.

The field, which opened in the fall of 2008, has been named in honor of the Luger family, a family with a rich history and relationship to the University, whose generosity made possible the complete reconstruction of the playing field and the addition of a practice field.

Luger Field is a lasting legacy of benefactors John and Donna Luger and in memory of the four Luger brothers – three Jesuits and a medical doctor. The Luger brothers – Howard Luger S.J., George Fletcher Luger M.D., Paul Luger S.J., and Robert Luger S.J. – were Spokane natives who attended Gonzaga High School and Gonzaga University during the 1920s and 1930s, devoting their lives to improving their communities and exemplifying the values they developed at Gonzaga.

George Luger talked about his father, Howard, and his three uncles growing up in Spokane, attending Gonzaga High School and Gonzaga University and their dedication to the Jesuits and the community. He recalled playing on Gonzaga’s football field, site of today’s Mulligan Field. He told of the sudden death of 28-year-old Robert who passed away prior to his ordination. The high school was the fifth floor of College Hall, the administration building on the Gonzaga University campus as both educational entities shared the same campus.

Two generations of the Luger family attended the event, including siblings John, George, Maryann Montandon, Theresa, and Loretta, all children of George Fletcher Luger, as well as John and Donna Luger’s children Justin, John Jr. and Tanya (Luger) Paszkeicz, the latter who played women’s soccer at Santa Clara University. John Luger served as the Chairman of Gonzaga’s Board of Trustees from 2010-12 and has been a member of the Board since 2000, serving on numerous committees.

“This moment really holds a great deal of personal meaning for me because it’s an opportunity on behalf of the university out of a long relationship to thank the entire Luger family and to recognize how much the Luger family has been an instrumental part of Gonzaga and Gonzaga’s history,” President McCulloh said. “Through his long involvement and leadership of the Board of Trustees I’ve come to perhaps most closely know John and his wife Donna. But across time and through his involvement with our engineering and computer science initiatives I have also had the privilege to know George, as well to have known their uncle Paul who, as a member of the Society of Jesus, was one of the longest living Jesuits here at Gonzaga.”

McCulloh said the love of family is among the traits which empower the Luger family to give back.

“What shines most consistently for me through these experiences is the love of family and the unwavering faith in the goodness of people and the real deep commitment to the causes which the Luger’s chose to devote themselves. The generosity of the Luger family is what has made it possible to dedicate the playing field we dedicate today,” McCulloh said.

McCulloh present John Luger with a replica of the dedication plaque permanently located near the main entrance to Luger Field.

Athletic director Mike Roth said John “knows a little bit about football, but this is futbol. In the World Cup, the rest of the world calls it football.”

Roth praised the playing field being dedicated to the Luger family.

“We are naming the field after the Luger family. We are tremendously proud of this field. It is natural turf and was done by Garco Construction and Tim Welsh and Mark Albin of A.M. Landshaper Inc. It is the best playing surface in the western United States without a doubt,” Roth said. “Every coach who comes in here, our players will tell you they hear it from other players and our coaches hear it from other coaches, we have the best field in the western United States, one of the best fields in the United States.”

Roth said the field is better than the fields currently being used in Brazil in the World Cup play.

“Better than those fields you’re seeing on TV down in South America. You see how they get torn up as play goes on. This field does not get torn up, it withstands and is a great surface to play on. We’re honored the Luger family will now have their name as part of that,” Roth noted.

President McCulloh said “the Luger’s generosity will substantially enhance the Gonzaga soccer experience as well as our ability to recruit top student-athletes. We are very grateful for their gifts and commitment to the University.”

John Luger said there were many factors which allowed him to be in the position to give back.

“As some of you know Donna isn’t here. For those of you who know me well realize the reason I have the gifts to give back were because of God’s blessings, because of a wonderful little company we operated for twenty years and because I had a very special wife who allowed me to do what I dreamt and came along with that dream and worked hard as a mother, as a co-worker building my business; so with her not being here I’d like a little recognition for how special she was in my life and how I wouldn’t be here without her,” Luger said.

He also said “I asked Coach (Steve) Hertz what am I going to say? He said just tell them how you feel. It’s here (pointing to his heart) and here (pointing to his mouth). Just make that connection, heart to mouth. I thought I guess that’s appropriate. This may appear to be something the Luger family is giving to Gonzaga, but I want to tell you Gonzaga has given much, much more back to the Luger family and for that I will be eternally grateful. Thank you.”

The field was blessed by Fr. Steve Kuder, S.J., associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Rector of Gonzaga University's Jesuit Community.

Roth concluded the dedication by coming good-humoredly to the defense of John Luger

“To defend John, those of you wonder why John went to Oregon and not come to Gonzaga. We didn’t have football then and John was a football player. I had the pleasure of touring some of the facilities at Oregon and John’s name is on some of the walls at the University of Oregon. John was an outstanding football player and now is a tremendous benefactor for Gonzaga University,” Roth said.

Continued fundraising is planned for Phases II, III and IV of Gonzaga’s soccer complex to add a main grandstand, permanent locker rooms, permanent concessions, permanent restrooms and stadium lights.