If you've been to a Bearcat football, basketball, soccer or volleyball game in recent years, then you've likely heard the booming voice of Jef Lucero. As a commentator and announcer, Lucero has become one of the most recognizable features of Bearcat athletic events. However, his talents reach far beyond the confines of the Willamette campus — he recently got the opportunity to stand in for a Seattle Sounders playoff game at Lumen Field in place of James Wollard, their usual announcer. In light of his recent success, The Collegian felt it was a good time to get to know the voice behind Bearcat victory.
Lucero’s resume as an announcer has a wide variety in terms of locations, levels and sports — he has done play-by-play, public address announcing and broadcasting at the high school, college and professional level. Lucero started his career between 1995 and 1998, beginning with volunteering at KAOS radio at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. He then moved to high school and college announcing: Tenino High School, Centralia College, Black Hills High School, Puget Sound, Saint Martin’s University, Oregon State and University of Washington were among the schools Lucero worked for before making his way to Salem.
In terms of professional organizations, Lucero has worked for Seattle Impact FC men’s indoor soccer, Kitsap Puma SC, the DubSea Fish Sticks Collegiate summer baseball, the Seattle Storm, as well as his recent gig with the Sounders. The latter event was a big opportunity for Lucero. During the playoff game, his voice was heard by a happy crowd of 35,000 Seattle supporters (one of his largest crowds yet) as the Sounders defeated FC Dallas to earn a spot in the Western Conference semifinals.
Lucero speaks highly of his relationship with the Seattle Storm, the WNBA franchise where he became the public address announcer in 2020. When questioned about his favorite memories as an announcer he stated:“[I enjoyed] being a part of the Sue Bird retirement ceremony and her last regular season and playoff games in Seattle.” He didn’t leave out the Bearcats however, going on to say he’s “been fortunate enough to watch some buzzer beaters, including one here on campus last Sunday,” referring to a 55-52 Women’s Basketball victory over Whittier on Nov. 12.
Commentating and announcing come with their own difficulties, however. As with any live performance, Lucero only gets one shot. “The mental part of it in terms of mispronouncing a name or stumbling through a read, you kind of just have to power through it,” Lucero explained. As a former baseball and tennis player, Lucero knows well the struggles of performing in the moment. “It’s not a whole lot different than playing, you know that mental part of it. We all get in our own heads and I’m by far my worst critic as well. As soon as I screw something up I get mad at myself for probably a lot longer than I should be.”
With Lucero having announced for so many teams in the Pacific Northwest throughout the last 25 years and being given the opportunity with the Sounders recently, there seems to be no limit on the possibilities that could come from his talents on the microphone.