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Lynn finds purpose on the field and off

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Roswell football coach David Lynn talks to his players after practice in this file photo from 2017. (David Rocha Photo)

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It took some personal challenges and being away from the game of football for three years that made Roswell football coach Jeff Lynn know that he missed it and had to get back to the thing that helped him get through the day.

At the end of the day, Lynn knew that personal satisfaction was not about making a lot of money as a stockbroker in his career, but in seeking a higher purpose to his true calling in life.

“I got out of coaching for a little while,” Lynn said. “I was miserable. I didn’t like sitting in that office. I was pretty good at it and I liked stocks and bonds. I kind of liked the hustle part of it — I enjoyed it. The thing I didn’t like was wearing a suit and tie at work. That’s not me. I wasn’t doing what I was put on this earth to do. I think we are put here on this earth for a reason. I was put here to help kids and coach. You’re not truly happy if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do.”

Lynn missed the camaraderie of being a coach and working with athletes, helping them grow and reach their full potential on the field and off. Lynn missed playing a competitive game where the stakes are high every time his team plays.

“I like the X’s and O’s,” Lynn said. “More so than anything, I like being in the weight room and pushing kids and motivating them and helping them to get better. I don’t like watching 10-12 hours of film. I do it, but I like interacting with kids.”

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Lynn missed the fact that there was a winner and loser at the end of the contest. Lynn missed pushing the players beyond what they thought they could do, the strategy of out-thinking an opposing coach and making adjustments. All of the things his brother Josh grew up with on Friday nights. Lynn missed watching kids use football to better their lives and have the opportunity to go off to college and play at the next level if they chose to — but more importantly, to get an education so they can have a better life and provide for their families.

Both Jeff Lynn’s dad, David, and his brother, Josh are coaches.

“I can’t think of anything else I would rather do, plus I like working with kids. Our trade was football, it’s what we knew and grew up around. We spend so much time up here with other people’s kids that we want our assistant coaches to bring their kids. You see our sidelines on Friday nights — all of our kids are down there in the middle of it with us. We want the kids around, it keeps it light in the office and it’s fun. I like it.”

So it is no surprise that when Roswell — during the semifinal game against Artesia — had the ball on their 35-yard line with 14 seconds to go, everyone in the stands felt like Lynn would play for overtime. Instead, he had senior quarterback Ethan Valenzuela call “Virginia” in the huddle. When Roswell came out and lined up Dylan Tucker on the outside and Jasia Reese as the inside receiver, Lynn noticed that Artesia put their best defensive back, Ty Johnson, on Reese on the inside on the hash marks.

When this happened, Lynn yelled at Valenzuela to throw it to the outside and give Tucker a chance at a 50-50 ball. At the snap, Valenzuela saw that the Bulldogs were bringing the house and threw it up to a streaking Tucker down the sidelines. Tucker saw the ball first and out-jumped his defender and put his body on him, shielding the ball as he went up, blocking the defender from making a play on the ball as Tucker high-pointed the ball, bringing it into his chest. He caught it and raced to Artesia’s 35-yard line.

With that, Lynn called his last timeout with nine seconds left in the game. With the ball at Artesia’s 35-yard line, Lynn called another pass play — this time he called “Empty” — Valenzuela was flushed out to his right and connected with Tucker, who caught the ball at the Artesia 10-yard line. Tucker cut inside of a defender and ran past another into the end zone as the clock expired.

Lynn is approaching the Las Cruces game with excitement to be in the championship game. He always saw himself and his team in the championship game, he just didn’t know how long it would take.

“Yeah, I did,” Lynn said. “I didn’t know when it was going to happen. I didn’t know if it was going to be six years or four years. When you’re in coaching and you keep doing the right things over and over, eventually good things are going happen. I knew we were going to have this kind of success — it probably took a little longer than I thought it would. When you’re building a culture and a program, it takes time. I knew we would be here, it was just going to be a matter of time.”

Lynn has achieved his goal of making it to the championship game while helping his athletes reach their full potential. Lynn and his coaches try to be role models for his players, especially since 66 percent of their players have fatherless homes. Lynn believes in trying to help the mothers by making sure his players get good grades, which he will post on a list outside the locker room.

“We believe that if we can help a single mom,” Lynn said, “to help her kid be better, then that’s certainly what we want to do. We start each year believing that if we do the right things and help each kid reach their full potential, then the winning will come. That’s the primary goal, to help kids, and winning is a byproduct of that.”

Lynn has felt the biggest impact on his coaching career from his dad, David. He feels like as he has grown older, he starts to do and say things like his dad did without even realizing it. Two other influences on his coaching career are Major Dwight Burns, who coached Lynn at New Mexico Military Institute, and Harold “Bud” Elliott, who Lynn was a graduate assistant under at Eastern New Mexico University.

Each day and game that Lynn lives, he lives by the motto: “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure … than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”  — Theodore Roosevelt

“I believe that you have to take chances and risk,” Lynn said. “I think too many people live in the gray twilight that they never do anything. They never step out of their comfort zone, they never evolve and the only way to do that is to take a risk. I could have continued to be a stockbroker and made a good living and probably been pretty wealthy because I was doing pretty good at it, but it wasn’t me. You have to take risks and chances. Sometimes when you do that you fall flat on your face and it’s happened to me.”

Before the game Saturday, Lynn will tell his team to play Roswell Coyote football. Lynn has created a culture that his team is going to stay together and play together as a team and have each other’s backs. The other thing is Roswell is going to be physical and play fast — cornerstones on which he has founded the program.

“I think about winning the state championship,” Lynn said. “More than that, it’s the relationship we have built with these kids. Just seeing them grow up over four years, that’s just as important. I will be super happy for the kids. Winning is not going to change my approach because we are still going to come back on Monday and try to get them better.”

In less than 24 hours, Lynn will get the chance to fulfill his dream and live out his purpose, because of the decision he made six years ago to return to coaching. Lynn will try to join his dad as a state championship coach and guide Roswell to the 5A championship at 1 p.m. against Los Lunas at the Wool Bowl.