Just look at the statistics: 26 year olds basketball coach; seven of them at Pasadena’s La Salle College Preparatory High School; 626 victories as a high school coach; sent more than 20 players to Division 1 schools, including 36 who continued to play basketball in college or the pros. Michael Lynch is also a five-time CIF Coach of the Year and State Coach of the Year.
But beyond that are the lives that Michael Lynch has touched and changed. When he retired from La Salle in June, Lynch said basketball will always be his life.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved basketball,” he said. “I played as a kid and always dreamed of playing at the next level, whether it was in the park, the next level in high school, the next level in high school and then college.”
After starting at St. Pius X High School in Downey, then Dominguez Hills High, Lynch believed his basketball trip was made at Victor Valley City College and Long Beach City College.
He joined the Los Angeles Police Department, got married and had the first of his three children. For fun, he joined one of the department’s basketball teams and eventually became a coach.
Mike Lynch, first from the left, at the back, said he and his wife Becky, their three children and grandchildren are the best team he has been a part of. (Photo courtesy of Michael Lynch)
“I fell in love with coaching and caught the mistake,” he said. “I was so grateful and grateful that I was able to stick to the game that I always loved.”
Still on the strength, Lynch coached his son Mychal’s high school team and was eventually offered a head coaching job at Price High School in Los Angeles.
“I knew I would use my basketball passion and my life experience to help young guys navigate the path to their dreams on and off the court,” he said.
But juggling two careers and one family, Lynch said, became extremely difficult, if not impossible.
“My wife Becky and I prayed to God for guidance, and within three days I was offered a position as head of security at my home church, the Crenshaw Christian Center, which was also home to Price High School.”
Lynch said that leaving his role as a police officer and detective and continuing to train full-time came “without any reservations or fear.”
More than 26 years later, this leap of faith has been winning, rewarding and challenging.
“The calling to be a coach has many components in it,” Lynch said. To make it effective, I had to be a coach, mentor, father figure, disciplinarian, advisor. Several of these components made me make decisions that were not always popular even for me.
Michael Lynch, basketball coach for boys at La Salle College Preparatory High School in Pasadena, looks back on an acclaimed career. He will retire in June. (Photo courtesy of La Salle College Preparatory High School)
“Playing time has always been challenging because I care about all my players just as much, but not everyone will be able to play. Another challenge for me has been when it’s time to be disciplinary. There have been a few times where I have had to turn off a player and or fire a player from the team altogether! The other side of coaching is the reward, like watching the guys graduate, go on to college to continue playing ball or pursue dreams off the field. “
When he came to La Salle seven years ago, Lynch said that the title of coach means a lot to him.
“I’ve seen a lot of guys play college football and some have gone to the NBA or played professionally abroad,” he said. “Some of the guys have become doctors, teachers, sports leaders, business owners, men, fathers and most importantly, positive men in their respective communities! I really love and respect each and every one of my ball players without respect for their paths in life.”
Many keep in touch with the man they still call “Coach” or “The Godfather” via text message or social media. His family, including his children Mychal, Angel and Ashelee, will spend more time with him. But on July 1, when Lynch wakes up to his first day after retirement, he said he will still have basketball on his mind.
The reason he can move on is that he will continue to work on his non-profit organization “A Coach Is”, which he founded in 2015 to mentor coaches and young student athletes.
“Now I can spend a lot of my time helping even more coaches and young men with their dreams,” he said. “Leaving the page after 33 years in a row is a win / win situation for me. I get to keep in touch with the game that I have loved most of my life and also continue to walk for the purpose that God put in my heart for many years ago.”
But before that, the La Salle community will honor Lynch for advocating the “basketball is life” principle for students.
“La Salle and the local basketball community are extremely grateful and grateful for Coach Lynch’s hall-of-fame career, which includes his love and service as a coach, mentor and community leader,” said Jamal Adams, principal of La Salle.
For himself, the impressive statistics and winning numbers pale in comparison to the relationships he has created in his coaching and his faith journey.
Lynch said he always tells his guys that they can achieve whatever they believe in.
“If I can do it, then I have done my job as a coach and mentor,” he said. “The principles of faith will help guys in all areas of their lives, not just on the track.”