Where are they now? Kurt Luttermoser
By - Cassaundra Cohrs, Contributing Writer (December 05, 2013)
Having spent his formative years playing football, baseball and basketball in Elk Rapids, it is no wonder that Kurt Luttermoser found himself in that world as an adult. After graduating from Elk Rapids High School in 1988, Luttermoser built a career working with a variety of sports teams including the Detroit Pistons. Now he runs AGA Nation, an organization that showcases the talents of action sports athletes through programs at schools and in other public arenas. While growing up in Elk Rapids did not directly connect him with action sports, he says that it gave him “a good base” to be able to pursue a variety of interests and interact with the world in a “positive” way.
Luttermoser first noticed the popularity of BMX bicycling and other extreme sports with youths while he was working at the Tigers’ training camps in Florida. Every year an increasing number of youths would ride to the camp on their bikes and skateboards showcasing the variety of tricks they could perform on their way. With this inspiration, Luttermoser decided to start his own company involving extreme sports and now, with his partner Ron Thomas, manages a team of athletes as they perform in schools in 40 different states. He argues that his program presents a beneficial message to students because “at the end of the day, sports are about communities and getting active.” His program encourages students to get involved. Through AGA Nation, Luttermoser exposes students to a sport they may not be familiar with and promotes physical fitness. He argues that, “You don’t need a team to ride a bike.” Everyone can be active if they have the motivation to do so.
The group has since gained the sponsorship of the National Guard and brings its show to schools through the program “Bring your “A Game” to School.” While visiting Elk Rapids, Luttermoser brought the show to Elk Rapids High School as well. BMX riders Trent Newkirk (white bike), Cory Wiergowski (brown bike) and Zach North (green bike) treated students to a fantastic show filled with daredevil tricks. Riders accomplished a myriad of feats, including several flips and spins, in mid-air. Amazingly, in two instances, performers successfully jumped over people from the audience including the high school principal, Michael Travis, and even six students at once. While these young men performed incredible, awe-inspiring tricks that might encourage some students to attempt similar feats, Thomas, who spoke at the assembly, emphasized that these activities could be dangerous and that students should not try to perform such tricks without proper preparation. He told students how, even though the riders at the assembly had trained for the sport, they still sustained injuries at times. One of the riders, Newkirk, had already been injured that week. Illustrating this point, one teacher in attendance, Erica Daly, was accidentally injured during the performance. While the program encouraged students to be active and try new activities, it also emphasized that they should ensure their own safety while doing so through the use of helmets and proper padding. Thomas also emphasized an anti-bullying message, telling students that, “If you work hard and respect other people, it’s going to take you places.” The program promotes ideals it calls the “core A’s”: alliance, attitude, authentic, ability, active, anti-bullying, and achieve along with the National Guard core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. These values along with the incredible performances help to cement the program’s popularity with both students and school administration.
Trent Newkirk successfully jumps over Elk Rapids High School Principal Mike Travis. Photo by KLW
(June 16, 2005)
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