Alumni donation helps build lacrosse/soccer field at Augustana

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

          With participation increasing nearly 140 percent since 2001, lacrosse is one of the fastest growing team sports in the United States, according to the US Lacrosse association. John and Mary (Thorson) Lucken, both 1962 graduates of Augustana College, know the sport and the stats, and generously supported the construction of a lacrosse/soccer facility that has helped recruit 54 students to campus.

?            The Luckens will be honored at a dedication ceremony at Thorson-Lucken Field (30th Street and 12th Avenue) on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 5 p.m.

            “Athletics can often be a big part of a student's total educational experience,” said Mary Lucken. “We want the lacrosse and soccer players at Augustana to have a fine venue, and we hope that many present and future students will benefit from this facility.”

            The Luckens’ decision to provide $700,000 of the $1.3 million needed to construct the facility for Viking lacrosse and soccer is due in part to their son’s lifelong love of lacrosse. In the 1980s, Rustin Lucken broke a family tradition of attending Augustana because he wanted to study on a campus where he could play lacrosse. As a trustee of the college, John Lucken is tuned into enrollment goals, and he believed the addition of lacrosse as a varsity sport and a new facility would open up recruiting opportunities.

?            Thanks to the Luckens’ generosity, 54 student-athletes chose to attend Augustana this fall for both the academic experience and the opportunity to play Division III varsity lacrosse. “It's a tremendous facility, and recruits can see and feel that,” said W. Kent Barnds, vice president of enrollment, communication and planning. “The addition of Thorson-Lucken Field is an important step in fulfilling the vision of our Campus Master Plan, which called for an expansion of playing fields and student recreation space.”

            Augustana’s established intercollegiate soccer teams, intramural programs and community clubs also will take advantage of the new venue, which features synthetic turf, lights, bleachers, Dr. James Kopel and Family Press Box and scoreboard.

?             “The addition of a sport-specific venue for our men’s and women’s lacrosse and soccer programs certainly differentiates us from our competitors,” said Mike Zapolski, athletics director. “Lacrosse is growing quickly, and we are excited to be on the forefront of its development in the Midwest.”

           Although the Luckens lived in Wyoming and Colorado during John’s 42-year career as a geologist in the oil and gas industry, the couple now resides John’s hometown, Akron, Iowa. At the Oct. 6 dedication of the field that carries their names, the Luckens will be joined by 16 members of their family, in addition to the college’s trustees and members from the Vikings lacrosse and soccer teams, among others.

Mary, who went on to earn a master’s degree from Middleburg College and taught Spanish for 14 years, gave this advice to Augie’s soccer and lacrosse teams, “Play fair. Play well. Have fun.”

About Augustana: Founded in 1860 and situated on a 115-acre campus near the Mississippi River, Augustana College is a private, liberal arts institution affiliated with the Evangelical Church in America (ELCA). The college enrolls nearly 2,500 students from diverse geographic, social, ethnic and religious backgrounds and offers more than 70 majors and related areas of study. Augustana employs 287 faculty and has a student-faculty ration 11:1. Augustana continues to do what is was always done: challenge and prepare students for lives of leadership and service in out complex, ever-changing world.