Shooting for a Better Future

Posted by Paula Paine on July 7, 2014 in "Your OU" Stephen-Lutz.jpgWhat do you do when you’ve taken direct aim at your dreams and devoted years to achieving them, only to miss the target when your back is against the wall? If you’re Stephen Lutz, you step back, reassess the goals you’re trying to hit, then double your efforts to achieve them.
As a 2014 graduate of OU-KC, Lutz reevaluated his dreams after twice failing to qualify for the Olympic Pistol Team, both in 2008 and 2012, a goal to which he had dedicated almost five years of his life. 
“After placing first at the National Championships in junior men’s air pistol as a sophomore in high school, I made the United States National Development Team in Pistol in 2005,” said Lutz. He went on to become a four-time first place finisher in the event, as well as earning two other national titles in the free pistol event. He also represented the United States in the junior men’s air pistol event at several international competitions overseas, including the World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia in 2006.
After graduating from high school in 2007, Lutz took a year to prepare for the 2008 Olympic Team Trials. After falling short, he was picked up on an athletic scholarship at The Ohio State University. In the spring of 2008, however, he was placed on the U.S. National Team for Pistol and asked to become a resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “It was a dream come true,” he said, “so I left school to pursue my dream of becoming an Olympic athlete. From 2009 to 2012, I traveled the world extensively, competing for the United States.”
At the 2012 Olympic Team Trials, Lutz once again fell short. “It was a devastating blow that pushed me to the point of giving up my dream of competing at the Olympic Games,” he said. So in the spring of 2012, he moved back to the Kansas City area to get on with life and forget about shooting.Stephen-Lutz2.png
But after six months of working at a granite fabrication shop, Lutz knew this was not the life he wanted for himself, and he set his sights on a new dream – earning his degree. “After looking at several universities in the Kansas City area, I settled on Ottawa University,” he said. “Their friendly staff and their focus on ‘Preparing for a Life of Significance’ was what attracted me to become a part of that culture. In the Fall2 term of 2012, I began my career at Ottawa University-Kansas City.”
Lutz worked fifty hours a week and took two classes each term to earn his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing in May. The hard work and dedication he put in to achieve his goal caused him to second guess abandoning his previous dream, and while at OU, Lutz found shooting again. In April, he competed in his first international competition since leaving the Olympic Training Center in 2012.

“It was a long road to getting my degree, but it was 100% worth the struggles it took,” said Lutz. “These struggles made me realize I still have unfinished business when it comes to my goals, and I will be attempting to fulfill my dream of competing in the Olympic Games in 2016.
“Improving yourself is a difficult task. I learned you have to keep your head-up, keep moving forward and don’t let anything, especially struggles and failures, keep you from achieving your goals.”