Mike Lynch, who starts off the new school year at Holy Family Academy as the new athletics director, looks right at home in his office, even if the space seems a little small for the tall man.
“I wasn’t looking for this job,” he said. “The school approached me.”
A retired teacher of fifth to eighth grades from the Bayonne School District, Lynch also served as an elementary school guidance counselor for about 11 years.
“I’m a dinosaur,” he said. “I spent my 40-year career in the same school, Mary Donohoe School. I’m a downtown guy.”
This makes sense since he’s moved from a downtown school on the east side to HFA near 8th Street on Avenue A.
As big a man as Lynch is, he has some big shoes to fill since the school has excelled in sports over the last few years, despite a limited pool of students to draw from.
“I’m very big on sportsmanship.” – Mike Lynch
The school has a competitive varsity volley ball program, outdoor track, tennis, basketball, bowling, and indoor track.
With about 150 girls in the school, filling slots and making teams competitive is a challenge, especially when these teams have to compete against schools with a larger base.
“A girl who goes out for track won’t be able to go out for volley ball in the same season,” he said, “and while we want to promote sports, our goal at this school is to make sure the students develop in academics.”
“For a few years, we were a regular powerhouse,” Lynch said, knowing that his role will be one of maintaining and improving programs.
Fortunately, Lynch is working with some talented coaches who can help bring out the best in the student athletes, such as Michael Serreta, a teacher in Union City.
The school has also seen some talented students transferring into the school this year.
Lynch has a long involvement in local sports, serving as a baseball and softball umpire for 40 years and a volleyball official for 20 years.
Lynch said he met with all of the coaches going into the school year to talk about goals and objectives.
One thing Lynch is strict about is safety, and he is very aware of the new state regulations regarding concussions.
“When in doubt, we sit a student out,” he said.
While most headlines deal with concussions resulting from football injuries, Lynch said this is a concern with any sport where there is contact.
“There is no more toughing it out,” he said.
Lynch said he hopes to maintain the quality of the programs, improve individual student athletic performances, and to make sure that students advance in their studies, as well as their sports performances.
He said he has two basic rules: play fair and play smart.
“I’m very big on sportsmanship,” he said.
He said winning, while admirable, is not his main goal.
“I want to see advancement of the individuals,” he said. “I just want them to give the game their best shot.”
One of the biggest challenges Lynch will face is raising money to support the programs. This will mean bake sales and raffles, and other ways to help cover the costs of providing equipment and uniforms.
This year, the school re-did its gym floor so that indoor games will shine.
In some ways as athletic director, Lynch will become his teams’ biggest fan, attending games and cheering on the girls.
“My heart is in Bayonne,” he said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.