When Coy Lutz tragically died in May 2016 in a horse performance accident, his family knew they had to carry on his memory in some way.
Lutz, 19, of Howard, was a bareback rodeo rider, a four-time national qualifier and a two-time Pennsylvania state champion in the High School Rodeo Association. He was also on a full-ride scholarship to the University of Tennessee at Martin, his father, Doug Lutz, said
Coy Lutz was a part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and was moving up the ranks when he died, his father said, so his family decided to bring the rodeo to Centre County.
“We’re doing this because this was Coy’s life,” his mother, Sabine Lutz, said. “He loved the Lord, he loved people and he loved the rodeo.”
He loved the Lord, he loved people and he loved the rodeo.”
The Coy Lutz Memorial PCRA Rodeo kicked off Friday evening at the Grange fairgrounds, with an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 in attendance cheering on the competitors as they barebacked bucking broncos and bulls, wrestled steer and roped cattle. The event is slated to continue Saturday evening in what some participants hope will be an even bigger turnout.
Doug and Sabine Lutz said they started the fund with the goal of giving out two scholarships — a $2,500 scholarship to a high school rodeo rider and $1,000 for any local high school student.
“We wanted to help someone like Coy,” Doug Lutz said, “that had the same drive to want to help people. A good kid that needed help.”
When it came to their son, Doug and Sabine Lutz agreed that he had a personality that simply made others feel good about themselves.
“Coy was everyone’s friend,” Sabine Lutz said. “He was just really a positive person.”
“And he made everyone feel that he was their best friend,” Doug Lutz added.
The memory of Coy Lutz was front and center at the rodeo, as the event opened with a tribute to the rider. Announcer Ty Miller held back tears as he described his friendship with Coy, talking about their time qualifying in different riding events.
“Coy was a good friend to many,” Miller said. “He was a brother, and he was a son of two great parents.”
In a prerecorded interview, attendees heard Coy Lutz talk about riding in rodeos since eighth grade, saying when he wasn’t in class or rodeo, he could be found in the gym. He also said he planned to rodeo professionally when he left school.
As the interview played, a bucking bronco was released onto the field. The horse, dubbed Captain Coy, had been ridden by Coy Lutz many times and wore his rig, chaps and riding glove in memory of its fallen rider.
Bullfighter Jason Smith, of Beech Creek, explained it was his job to get between the bulls and the riders as protection. He said he initially started riding bulls, but moved on to bareback riding through the help of Doug Lutz.
Smith said he believed Coy Lutz could have moved to the next level of riding, and was impressed with the Friday night turnout.
“It’s an honor to be in this,” he said. “Words can’t express what this means to me. It’s great to see everyone supporting a great cause and a great foundation.”
Sabine Lutz echoed the same sentiment, saying being able to have the event “means everything” to her.
“We’re going to send a kid to college,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for a better night or a better turnout. I know Coy’s here with us.”
The memorial rodeo continues at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Grange fairgrounds in Centre Hall.