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Friends’ Central’s Ryan Lynch is Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week

Lynch, who was a first team All-Friends’ Schools League selection as a center mid last fall, was moved to center back this season, leading the Phoenix defense in several key early-season victories.  Friends’ Central girls’ soccer head coach Luke Nowell said, “Aside from being a tremendous physical and defensive presence in the back, Ryan brings incredible technical ability and composure on the ball to her position. She has a great soccer IQ and is able to calm the game in tense situations and make things easier for her teammates. Above all else, Ryan is a natural leader as well. She is incredibly vocal in keeping us organized on the field and encouraging everyone around her.” Lynch also plays center back for one of the top 2003 club teams in the country, FCUSA Black.

Q: Tell us about the difference in your responsibilities as a center back versus center mid.

A: When I play center back I have to be extremely vocal because I can see the whole field. My teammates depend on me to give them information when they get the ball. I will either say they can turn or they have a player on their back. I also have to make sure that our back line pushes up the field, so that our offensive players can put pressure on the opposing team’s back line. I have to be prepared to play the opposing team’s offense and be able to adjust to their formation at any given moment. There is a lot of pressure that comes with playing center back, but I love the pressure because it drives me to be better.  As a center mid I have to be able to play through balls to our forwards to run on to. I also have to be vocal and always be aware that people are around me at all times since the middle of the field is often congested during our games. When I play center mid I have less time on the ball, so I have to know where my next pass is going before I get the ball. I enjoy playing both positions and I have learned a lot about soccer since I play more than one position. 

Q: Tell us a little about your start in soccer. What originally attracted you to soccer? Who have been your most important soccer mentors, and what was the most important thing each of them taught you?

A: I’ve been playing soccer since I was four years old. I started playing soccer with my neighborhood intramural program. I stuck with the sport because there was always something new to learn, and a skill that I could better develop. My important soccer mentors are Luke Nowell,  my Friends Central soccer coach; Kyle Helton, my strength and conditioning trainer and the director of Next Level Sports; and Danielle Fagan, my skill development trainer who also helps me with nutrition and the college athlete search process. Danielle is the director of  Soccer DCF. Each one of my mentors have supported me in distinct ways and has each contributed to my development as a soccer player. These people have supported me through my challenges and my successes in soccer. I would not be where I am now without their support. My first travel experience started with the Haverford Soccer Club. My coaches believed in me before I believed in myself. They would often tell me what a strong player I was and to stay focused on my goals. The encouragement I received from my coaches when I was younger helped me build my confidence and competitiveness. I’ve always been pretty modest but I’ve learned that as an athlete, I have to be sure of myself . 

Q: What do you consider the strongest part of your game? Tell us a little about your off-season training. What aspect of your game did you work on most this summer?

A: I would say the strongest parts of my game are my physical presence, technical skills and my soccer IQ. For a competitive soccer player I feel as though there is never an off-season. I play year round whether I’m inside playing futsal or at a summer tournament. If you want to be a great soccer player you can’t stop playing when the fall season ends. This summer I focused on my conditioning and lateral speed skills. 

Q: Who is your favorite soccer player and why?

A: My favorite soccer player is Crystal Dunn because of her tenacity and persistence. It makes me proud to see another African-American woman succeeding at the highest level of the game. She is a player I look up to because she puts the success of the team before her own. Like me, Dunn had to adjust to playing in a position other than her primary one for the good of the team.

Q: Briefly describe for us your pre-game preparation (physical, mental) on the day of a game.

A: Ideally I would like to have about 45 minutes before warming up to get in my zone. I do this by listening to the same playlist with the same songs every game because it helps me focus. I also do positive self talk throughout my warm up to keep me in my zone. One of the new exercises that I have been working for my pre-game ritual is my breathing. My high school team has the privilege of working with a wellness coach named Lauren Becker. During our last session she taught our team about the importance of deep breathing and how it can better your game. Now I take at least five deep breaths before every game and it really helps me focus and relax. 

Q: You wear No. 18 for Friends’ Central soccer – is there a reason you picked this number – does it have any significance to you?

A: I chose this number because my birthday is on March 18, and it has been a lucky number for me. 

Q: Do you participate in any other extracurricular activities at Friends’ Central other than soccer?

A: At Friends’ Central, I am apart of the Peer Mentor Program; Black Student Forum leadership and Student Additions Council. I play basketball, run track and I am a lifeguard for Lower Merion Township. In addition to these activities, one of my goals is to start a summer soccer program to promote diversity in girls soccer. Early on in my soccer career, I noticed that there were not many other girls that looked like me playing. I do not want other girls to have this feeling and I think a program like this would help change that. 

Q: What is your favorite course at Friends’ Central? What do you think you might want to major in at college? Is there a career field that particularly interests you at the present time?

A: My favorite course at Friends Central is History. I want to major in psychology on a pre-med track. I would like to become an orthopedic surgeon and continue my soccer career as far as it takes me. 

Fun facts – Ryan Lynch

Favorite book: The Sun is Also A Star, by Nicola Yoon. 

Favorite author: Toni Morrison. 

Favorite TV show: The Good Doctor. 

Favorite movie: Love & Basketball.

Favorite athlete: Serena Williams.

Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Eye of the Tiger.

Favorite team: USWNT.

Favorite place to visit: “Anywhere with a beach.”

Favorite pre-game meal: Chicken pesto pasta.

Person I most admire, and why: “I admire Christinia Poplawski, affectionately known as Ms. Pops. She was my 7th grade art teacher, and middle school basketball coach. She took an interest in me as an athlete and has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders. Mrs. Pops was a former college athlete and is the mother of two Division I athletes. She has given me a lot of helpful advice about college. She checks in on me frequently and I know that she will always be there for me.” 

Family members: parents Thomas Lynch IV and Robin Vann-Lynch, Ph.D., sister Tyler Lynch and brother Thomas Lynch V.

To be selected as the Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)

To view a gallery of the Main Line Girls Athletes of the Week from 2013 to present, click here




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