Northeast Times

Leading the Crusade

Fath­er Judge's new youth­ful ath­let­ic dir­ect­or be­lieves that age is just a num­ber. 

  • Young and able: At 27, Jimmy Lynch is Father Judge’s new athletic director. Lynch, who was born in Mayfair and raised in Bucks County, comes to Judge after serving as the athletic director at Boston’s Cathedral High School for the past four years. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

  • Young and able: At 27, Jimmy Lynch is Father Judge’s new athletic director. Lynch, who was born in Mayfair and raised in Bucks County, comes to Judge after serving as the athletic director at Boston’s Cathedral High School for the past four years. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

  • Young and able: At 27, Jimmy Lynch is Father Judge’s new athletic director. Lynch, who was born in Mayfair and raised in Bucks County, comes to Judge after serving as the athletic director at Boston’s Cathedral High School for the past four years. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

Step in­side Jimmy Lynch’s of­fice at Fath­er Judge’s Mitchell Ath­let­ic Cen­ter and you’re bound to do a double take.

Is that the Cru­saders’ new ath­let­ic dir­ect­or in the school-is­sued sky blue polo shirt, or a Judge stu­dent furi­ously typ­ing away be­hind a Mac­Book at the large wooden desk?

Lynch smiles when asked about his age. After all, there aren’t too many baby-faced, 27-year-olds sit­ting at the head of ath­let­ic de­part­ments in one of the most com­pet­it­ive leagues in the state. He’s heard the whis­pers from doubters since he got star­ted in this busi­ness four years ago, and he still hears them now. Un­able to do any­thing about the year of his birth, Lynch in­stead lets his work speak for it­self.

“I’m young, yeah, but a lot of people are young and can still do great things,” Lynch said dur­ing a Thursday chat in his new of­fice on his fourth of­fi­cial day on the job. “I’ve had suc­cess the last four years, so I don’t think I have to prove my­self. I’ve already done that. I’ll work my tail off to bring great things to this ath­let­ic de­part­ment. Work­ing hard and to­geth­er with the coaches and the school, I’m good at that.

“But the age is­sue, that’s just something that’s go­ing to be with me un­til I’m not a young kid any­more. The doubters will be there, but I have to look at my­self and say that there’s not many people do­ing this at my age who already have four years ex­per­i­ence.”

Lynch spent the first years of his life grow­ing up on St. Vin­cent Street in May­fair. He would have gone to Judge like his fath­er, Bob (Class of 1974), uncles and cous­ins, but his par­ents moved the fam­ily to Rich­boro, Bucks County, when he was a boy. Lynch gradu­ated from Coun­cil Rock High School South in 2004, hav­ing played varsity bas­ket­ball and vol­ley­ball.

He re­ceived an un­der­gradu­ate de­gree in so­ci­ology from Saint Joseph’s Uni­versity in 2008, play­ing vol­ley­ball and lacrosse at the club level. However, it was dur­ing this time that Lynch real­ized his fu­ture may be in the edu­ca­tion­al side of ath­let­ics, as he worked vari­ous jobs with­in the school’s ath­let­ic, re­cre­ation and sports in­form­a­tion de­part­ments.

Lynch went on to earn a mas­ter of sport man­age­ment de­gree from Neu­mann Uni­versity in 2009, and it was a sum­mer in­tern­ship in Bo­ston as part of his gradu­ate pro­gram that led him down his cur­rent ca­reer path. After net­work­ing and ac­quir­ing some con­tacts throughout the city, Lynch landed the ath­let­ic dir­ect­or’s job at Bo­ston’s Cathed­ral High School at just 23 years of age. Sev­er­al of the in­ner-city’s Cath­ol­ic school’s ath­let­ic pro­grams im­proved right away once Lynch took over; the foot­ball team went from 3-8 at the time of his ap­point­ment to ap­pear­ing in back-to-back state cham­pi­on­ships.

Re­turn­ing to Phil­adelphia, Lynch wants to wrestle away some of the many cham­pi­on­ships that have been dished out in re­cent years to power­house Cath­ol­ic League com­pet­it­ors such as La Salle and St. Joseph’s Prep, but his own re­cipe for suc­cess, the one that worked for him in Bo­ston, is much broad­er and sim­pler than wins and losses.

“Ul­ti­mately, when you’re an ath­let­ic dir­ect­or at any level, you need to real­ize you’re rep­res­ent­ing an edu­ca­tion­al in­sti­tu­tion,” he said. “Stu­dents need to be stu­dents, and they’re called stu­dent-ath­letes for a reas­on. Ath­let­ics are a priv­ilege, an ex­ten­sion of the classroom. We want to get them to gradu­ate, go get a four-year de­gree and be­come pro­duct­ive mem­bers of so­ci­ety. That’s how we suc­ceed as a school and a com­munity.”

Lynch’s philo­sophies should mesh well at a school like Judge. He un­der­stands how well-re­spec­ted the tra­di­tion and his­tory are with­in the Judge com­munity. Lynch isn’t in­ter­ested in mold­ing phys­ic­al, ath­let­ic spe­ci­mens that will peak in high school, nor is he at­tempt­ing to re­in­vent the wheel; rather, he just wants stu­dent-ath­letes to be af­forded the same op­por­tun­it­ies he was at such a young age.

“Listen, these kids are here to earn an edu­ca­tion,” he said. “If you’re an awe­some play­er, that’s great, but I’ve been in­volved in urb­an sports for four years, and I’ve seen ath­letes treat edu­ca­tion like it doesn’t mat­ter. Then comes the ‘Ah-ha!’ mo­ment where you’re broke, with no no edu­ca­tion, not do­ing any­thing.”

Lynch re­ferred to his sud­den home­com­ing as a “dream come true.” After find­ing im­me­di­ate suc­cess in Bo­ston, he was ready to come back to Phil­adelphia and build a pro­fes­sion­al net­work here. In Judge, he in­her­its a stu­dent body roughly three times the size of Cathed­ral’s, and one of the first things he no­ticed when step­ping on cam­pus is how much the fa­cil­it­ies have im­proved at Judge in re­cent years. Not only do the Cru­saders boast their brand new sports com­plex across the street from the school, but they also have the Mitchell Cen­ter, which fea­tures a state-of-the-art weight room that looks like it was pulled from a bro­chure from a Di­vi­sion-I col­lege.

“The thing I’ve no­ticed the most so far is that every­one in this com­munity, be it alumni or the board or the coaches, every­one just wants Judge to suc­ceed,” Lynch said. “For me, it’s about build­ing from with­in as a whole as op­posed to just fo­cus­ing on one team. Any­thing I can do to help these kids get to col­lege, I’m there. I want kids to be ex­cited about com­ing to school here.”  

Above all, Lynch is just ex­cited about the op­por­tun­ity Judge has presen­ted him. Like Cathed­ral, those in charge looked bey­ond his youth­ful ap­pear­ance and fo­cused in­stead on what he’s ac­com­plished. He knows he’s stepped in­to an en­vi­able po­s­i­tion, and plans to be here “for the long haul.”

He’s got top-notch fa­cil­it­ies, cap­able coaches and eager stu­dent-ath­letes who want to make Fath­er Judge the best school pos­sible, across the board.

“Ob­vi­ously nobody has high­er ex­pect­a­tions for this than I do,” he con­cluded. “I want this place to be the mod­el for ath­let­ics not only in Phil­adelphia, but na­tion­wide. We have so many op­por­tun­it­ies to do great things here.

“In an age where sports could po­ten­tially be on the chop­ping block at a lot of schools in our area, it’s just great to know Judge is com­mit­ted to ath­let­ics. We want to keep ath­let­ics here in the dir­ec­tion they’re go­ing. All I want to do is bring some new cre­ativ­ity and en­ergy. That’s the one flip side about me be­ing young: I’ve got a ton of en­ergy.” ••

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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