Lumberjacks' latest leaders

Photo courtesy of Katie Rapp of NAU Athletics

Shane Burcar — Men’s Basketball

Burcar, his wife and four children moved to Flagstaff from Phoenix when he accepted an assistant coaching job last season. When former head coach Jack Murphy accepted a coaching position at UA, Burcar took over as acting head coach.

His position at the moment is interim, but he has high hopes for heading the Lumberjacks long-term.

Burcar was the head coach for 12 seasons at Mesa High School. He said he can clearly see the difference between mentoring high school and college players.

“Their focus changes in college, as does mine,” Burcar said. “We want to stress academics and make sure they have a strong career path. Once the ball goes flat, and their time is over as a player, we want them to know they can get somewhere.”

He shares his ideology with the players. He wants all 16 players to have a presence in the community and to use the social platform they might have to put the program on the map.

“I want to be known more than a basketball coach, and the guys as more than players,” Burcar said. “There is good product on the floor this winter because of their talent and resiliency.”

NAU has not sent their men’s basketball team to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament since 2000.

Burcar explained that his biggest goal of the season is to get the team there for the first time in nearly 20 years. He knows this will not only display the team’s talent but prove to NAU and the community what Lumberjacks basketball is capable of.

Kylie Louw — Soccer

Kylie Louw is beginning the 2019 season as women’s soccer head coach. She spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach working under Andre Luciano prior to his resignation.

She played in the 2012 Olympic Games for her native country South Africa, and has received many awards during her time as a player. These include but are not limited to three-time Southland Conference Player of the Year and being nominated as the South African Player of the Year in 2010.

Louw feels that being an assistant has helped familiarize herself with NAU, the players and fellow coaches. She said the transition to head coach came with a lot more responsibility and decision-making.

This season, she will coach 31 girls, including 11 incoming freshman — 11 girls who will see only her as their head coach. Louw knows there is a uniqueness to every individual and feels she has developed strong relationships with each player.

The goal is to win and to motivate the girls to be the healthiest versions of themselves.

“We hold them to a high standard and they hold one another to a high standard,” Louw said. “It’s been really cool to see them grow into a really strong mentality.”

Coaches, academic counselors, trainers and administrators are very active in the team’s life. She feels comfort knowing the girls will come to practice ready to focus on soccer.

“We’re lucky to have so many players wanting to be a part of NAU soccer and this community,” Louw said. “Sometimes the team can be pulled in multiple directions, but they do it with a lot of help.”

Chris Ball — Football

Chris Ball, NAU’s new incoming head coach, is someone of great character and morals. Ball strives to change the lives of his players and is someone the fans will be excited to see.

His emphasis is to develop a new culture and strive to improve the morals and characters of the young men on his team. The experience is there — Ball served as a coach for 30 years and had one of the top turnover-causing defenses in the nation. While coaching at ASU, he trained NFL star defensive back Damarious Randall.

Ball’s coaching strategies over the past 30 years have worked for him. He believes his strong defensive mindset and new defensive strategy will take the Lumberjacks far this upcoming fall season.

Ball has always been focused on the growth and development of his players, not only as football players but as productive men of the community.

“I do this because you have the chance to change a young man’s life and help them accomplish the goals that they have,” Ball said.

The mindset he instills in his players is summarized in a slogan, “Forget it. Next play.” He wants his young men to not worry about the mistakes they made the previous play and to move forward, making their best effort on the next play. He wants them to take that lesson into account when facing real-life adversity.

“The fans should be excited for the players,” Ball said. “They have been working tirelessly, and the fans should be excited to see a new and improved football team.”