Last season, Andover Youth Football coach Kevin Lynch found himself fighting for his life on a football field in Derry after suffering a major heart attack. This season, the beloved coach finds himself about to step onto the biggest football field in New England to accept an award as Massachusetts Coach of the Year.
Coach Lynch said he didn’t want his kids to remember his last days as coach to be the images of ambulances and defibrillators.
“I put my emotions aside and I wanted to be there for the kids,” Lynch said.
Lynch said his return to football was a decision made with little hesitation. He said he wanted to prove to himself and to his kids that he could do it. League president Ralph Dellatto said coach Lynch went back to the team just a few weeks after the event, just to let them know he was all right. He then returned full time the following season.
“For him to come back so quickly,” said Dellatto, “I think is a testament to his commitment to the kids and to football in the town of Andover.”
This year, it was Lynch’s team that did the impossible. Both squads finished the season on top of the league and undefeated at 11-0. Lynch said his regimented and disciplined coaching style, along with his team’s astute understanding of the game led to their success.
“They understand the importance of playing as a team rather than playing as individuals,” said Lynch.
Dellatto said coach Lynch is one of the league’s few non-parent coaches. He attributes Lynch’s dedication to Andover’s youth as one of his greatest qualities. Andover selectman Ted Teichert agrees.
“Kevin is very much respected by the league and his players,” said Teichert, “He deserves a lot of credit in the success of the eighth grade travel team and has put Andover on the map.”
Coach Lynch said the award is very humbling. For him, coaching eighth graders goes far beyond just x’s and o’s.
“A lot of what we teach is so much more than football,” said Lynch, “We are teaching them values including to be a good person, a good student, and a good member to the community.”
It’s a job Lynch has been doing for over 15 years, the last eight with Andover’s 8th grade travelling team. It’s a job that hasn’t gone by unnoticed by Dellatto.
“You can play hard, but you can also be a gentleman on the field,” said Dellatto, “We’re fortunate to have a human being that is so dedicated to our mission.”
Coach Lynch said he’s happy to accept the award given by the Massachusetts High School Coaches Association next week at Gillette Stadium, but ultimately, he said it’s his team’s accomplishments that matter most. Lynch said no individual goal surpasses the goals of the team, not even the coach.
He will be honored in Foxboro on Saturday, March 12.