By: Jake Krier, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) - With senior offensive lineman Max Lutz (De Pere, WI/West) amidst the final bye week of his Blugold football playing career, someone who knows a thing or two about the experience is his father. Max's dad, Jeff Lutz, a native of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, started and lettered for the Blugolds as an offensive lineman himself, where he earned all-conference honors in his senior campaign. While Jeff is likely proud of said accomplishments, a more recent announcement has him describing the news as "extremely humbling and quite an honor."
On March 25, 2017, Jeff Lutz will be inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He was selected as one of four assistants in next year's class. Lutz's coaching tenure spread across the high school and college levels, including 11 years spent as the offensive line coach at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. While at UW-Eau Claire, he also taught in the Kinesiology Department.
Perhaps most notable in his 35 years of coaching, all as an offensive line coach, came when he helped lead West De Pere High School to consecutive state titles in 2010 and 2011. Playing for the Phantoms on the offensive front line was Max.
"When you have the opportunity to coach your own son, it's really special," said Lutz. "To have won two state championships with Max, it made it that much more special."
Lutz added, "Seeing him go on and utilize a lot of the stuff he was taught in high school and using it now at the college level, it's pretty exciting and makes me awful darn proud."
When looking at the Lutz family, the Blugold tradition extends beyond just Jeff and Max. Jeff's father, Ray, who originally moved to the area to play professional baseball with the Eau Claire Braves, has supported the school's athletic programs for years. Some refer to him as the "Candyman", as Ray has been known to deliver pastries and other delicious treats to teams and athletic department staff.
Now in his mid-eighties, Ray still frequents Blugold sporting events and has particularly enjoyed watching his son and grand-son coach and play for the university.
"It was a good place for Jeff to go. He enjoyed it, and he has helped other kids not only in football but as a teacher," said Ray. "He's helped a lot of kids out, but he wants to do that. That's what made him what he is, and he deserves the Hall of Fame honor."
Max replicated the praise for his father, saying, "It makes me extremely proud to be his son and to know that he is one of the best coaches in Wisconsin history both at the high school and collegiate levels." He added, "It is a great honor to carry on the tradition of being a Blugold, and I could not be more proud for him to see me put on the same colors and play on the same field as he did for many years."
Jeff described his son Max as "part of the club now," as he has carried on the Lutz family tradition. However, in March, it will be Jeff who becomes part of a prestigious club of his own.
In addition to reiterating how humbled and honored he felt, Jeff said, "You certainly don't get into coaching to get recognized. It's always been about the kids you coach and developing them; it's [about] seeing them succeed."