By: Gabby Maulucci
A spotless reputation usually comes with high expectations. The expectations to not only flourish on the field, track or court, but to also perform in an entertaining, respectable and impressive way.
Springfield College has been known for its impeccably talented athletes, those of which often result in national championship winning teams. There are many variables that play a part in the making of a team’s success, but one of the most influential and beneficial components are undoubtedly the qualities of a captain.
Returning nine of their 10 starters this year, the Springfield College men’s lacrosse team anticipates nothing less than an undefeated season.
“I believe in always having high expectations for your team,” said senior captain Ryon Lynch.
As a junior, Lynch captured the 18th spot in the nation for points per game during the 2013 season and racked up 79 points, including 37 goals and 42 assists, resulting in 141 career points, which has earned him 15th all-time on the career points list.
Although Lynch has an impressive amount of points heading into his senior season with the Pride, it may be shocking to learn that the attackman from Frederick, Md. played a mere 12 minutes during the entirety of his freshman year at Springfield.
“It was tough to sit on the bench right out of high school, but I realized that I still had a lot to learn, and coming into a program like this really makes you understand that you don’t know everything,” Lynch explained. “I had many older players in front of me who taught me a lot and really helped me adapt to the game at a different level. I think that tough time definitely gave me the ability to help lead my team this year.”
That uneventful year on the bench during the 2011 lacrosse season provided Lynch with fuel to work even harder to get his shot – and that he did. Leading the conference in assists last season, he is one of the most valuable attackmen in New England.
Lynch is known around the Springfield College campus as the kid with the contagious laugh. Often described as energetic and carefree, this Physical Education major is anything but that on the lacrosse field. Serious, focused and extremely superstitious are some of the more fitting words for Lynch on game day. You can find him in the locker room hours before the game is set to begin. Headphones wrapped around his head, which is buried in his hands, eyes closed as anticipated plays whisk around in his mind.
“It is impossible to distract him,” said fellow teammate and captain Kevin Freeman. “He gets into this zone. I’ve never seen someone so concentrated.”
The Chief Dawgs, a nickname given to the team for their intensity, always bolt onto the field with a “W” branded in their eyes. The warm-up music fades and the national anthem takes its place. The team lines up, faces the flag and shows their respects, but Lynch stands out among his identically dressed teammates. A superstitious ritual that has been a part of his pre-game routine for years really tugs at the heartstrings.
There are two different emblems on his helmet, one on the right and one on the left. The hand-written words are for two important people in Lynch’s life. On the right of his helmet he has “Pop Pop” and on the left, “DM.”
“Pop Pop is for my grandfather who died last year and DM for my friend Dustin Muse, who died in a car accident when I was in high school,” explained Lynch. “Dustin was two years older than me, played lacrosse and was the starting quarterback for our football team my sophomore year. I always looked up to Dustin; he was a great athlete and a great leader. He set a great example for me on how to be successful- a leader on and off the field. I always remember Dustin and the things he taught me, which helped me get to where I am today. As for my grandfather, he was a person that I always looked up to. The toughest man I ever met who, as my father describes, had the heart of a warrior. He never got to see me play here at SC and I put his name on my helmet so that he is with me now and finally gets to watch me play. I just try to make him proud every time I step on the field.”
Lynch kisses each of the words on his helmet during the national anthem and then,without hesitation, bangs it against his head.
“It pumps me up, and I’ve done it for as long as I can remember,” commented Lynch.
With the way he executes during games, dont expect anyone to mess with Lynch’s superstitions.
Possessing the quality to make a difference within your team is something that Springfield College student-athletes strive for, and there’s no arguing Lynch’s ability to do just that.
“Being a captain to me means that myself, along with the other captains, need to lead by example on and off the field,” stated Lynch. “Doing the correct things will help our team come together to be one cohesive unit and ultimately be successful at the end of the day.”