Soccer, Basketball, Softball
Favorite athlete: Julie Ertz
Favorite team: Villanova Men's Basketball
Favorite memory competing in sports: In basketball, scoring a buzzer-beater three against Jenkintown to tie the game and take us into overtime my junior year.
Most embarrassing/ funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: During a softball game, I hit a ball out into left field. As I was running to second, the ump was standing in the middle of the base path, and I accidentally ran him over. I apologized about five times after that.
Music on playlist: The Lumineers, Kanye, and Harry Styles
Future plans: I would like to attend a good college and continue to be involved in sports.
Words to live by: "Don't worry, be happy"
One goal before turning 30: Backpack through Europe
One thing people don't know about me: I am obsessed with llamas and alpacas.
By Mary Jane Souder
Phoebe Lynch can’t remember a day when she wasn’t playing sports.
Until, that is, a recent weekend when the two-year captain of her Lower Moreland soccer team – on her way to earning 12 varsity letters - was playing club for her Philadelphia Ukrainian National team in her team’s first game of the fall.
“We were playing on a grass field, which no one was used to because we all play on turf for high school too,” Lynch said. “The grass was long. I already had ankle problems, and I tend to twist my ankle, so I already was a little bit nervous, but I was playing great in the game.
“It was about 15 minutes in, and the other team got a corner kick. I went up for a header shoulder to shoulder with a girl for the other team, and I got knocked off balance. I came down on my knee, and it just shifted inward and cracked.”
Lynch was in shock.
“So many emotions were going through my head,” she said. “A lot of my friends have gone through knee injuries. I have two friends who tore their ACL, one friend who’s done it twice.
“I’ve been there to see what happens when they did it, so I think I did know right away, and that’s why I was so in shock. I was thinking, ‘Am I going to get to play in the future?’ I was a mess at that point.”
After a trip to the ER and ensuing visit to a pediatrician at CHOP in Chalfont, Lynch still didn’t have confirmation that she’d torn her ACL. A visit to an orthopedic doctor and an MRI, however, did.
“That night the doctor called my mom and said it was an MCL and ACL tear,” she said. “It wasn’t a huge surprise, but a little part of me was hoping it was just a sprain, and all my coaches and my friends were saying, ‘You never know.’”
With the confirmation came the unimaginable realization that her high school days of competing in sports were over.
“It was definitely devastating to hear,” Lynch said. “I already questioned how our season was going to go with COVID, and I was already a little bit sad that my senior year wasn’t going to look like a normal senior year. I was actually really devastated. I wasn’t just upset that I wasn’t going to be playing. I also had this mindset that I was also letting my team down.”
It turns out Lynch is doing anything but letting her team down.
“This is the best part about Phoebe and is a great example of who she is,” Lower Moreland first-year coach Mike Gould said. “She has literally been to everything – on time to every practice, on time to every bus for a game.
“She is super supportive of not just the teammates in her grade – that’s really easy, but she’s super supportive of a freshman girl she doesn’t even know. We’re starting six freshmen because of injuries, so she’s been like a second coach. Girls come off the field during practice, and she’ll talk to them.
“On top of that, she’s very friendly with them outside of soccer, but the best way to describe Phoebe since she got hurt is basically a second coach. Even at halftime of games, I’ll ask her in the team huddles what she’s seeing, what she thinks. She’s an intelligent soccer player, and she’s somebody that all the girls respect on the team.”
For Lynch, who acknowledged coaching could well be part of her future, the role has been something of a natural one.
“I was a captain last year also, and being a captain has really changed the game for me,” she said. “I’m a vocal player, and not being able to be on the field has really affected the way I look at the game because it’s so different watching.
“At practice, I make sure to critique my teammates. During games at halftime, I always look for ways to help our team even when I’m not playing. I always bounce off of what my coach says. I think being involved with your team when you’re injured is just as important as playing on the field.”
Lynch got her first taste of soccer when she was three years old and added basketball and softball two years later.
“Sports were my whole life basically,” she said. “Through sports I kind of found myself.
“I loved them all, but I think soccer and basketball both stood out. Everyone would ask me – what do you like better, soccer or basketball, but I love them equally. I played pretty well in both, and I grew up loving them both.”
Interestingly, Lynch says she didn’t grow up in a typical sports family.
“My dad didn’t play many sports,” she said. “My mom played basketball and field hockey but didn’t play in college, which is very different because a lot of my friends who are athletes have their parents put a lot of pressure on them in the sports world.
“My parents were always more relaxed and encouraging, which was good, but I think that’s why mentally I was so much harder on myself than my parents were hard on me. Everyone in my family loves sports. My mom went to Villanova, and we’re basically a basketball family, which is always hard with soccer, but they’re the best. They’ve helped me grow as a person and player so much. I learned so much from them.”
Lynch’s brother and sister are also involved in sports but, according to the LM senior, “just in different way.”
In third grade, Lynch began playing soccer for the local club team, Huntingdon Valley Athletics Association, and more recently switched over to Philadelphia Ukrainian National team. She also played AAU basketball from sixth through ninth grade, but when it came time to choose, Lynch opted for soccer.
“It was actually a really hard choice because I was thinking of college and exposure and which sport I wanted to pursue in college,” Lynch said. “I decided soccer was the best fit for me playing in the future.”
Gould got his first glimpse of Lynch last summer at an ID camp.
“I connected with her a little bit because I knew I was getting the job,” the Lions’ coach said. “She’s just been very helpful. She was our center defensive midfielder. She did anything we needed her to do.
“As a player, her strengths are definitely her vision and awareness on the field. We played a 4-3-3, and our midfield was inverted, so we had one deep and our two center mids in front of her. Phoebe was basically the quarterback on the field for the two center mids in front. She was always in the right place, always at the right time. She always understood the flow of the game – where we want the next pass to go.”
Beyond that, according to Gould, Lynch is an outstanding1v1 defender.
“When she was healthy, her 1v1 defending was some of the best in our division,” he said.
Although she knew she wasn’t exempt, Lynch admits that an ACL injury was never really a concern.
“It always crossed my mind because literally so many people around me have done it, but for me, I never had knee problems even,” she said. “My coach said he thinks it was just a fluke that I landed on the ground wrong because I wasn’t really prone to that injury.’
“All my friends had drastic injuries, but for me, it was always just a small injury. It was nothing big like that. I guess that’s what made me upset because I’d never gone through this long-term thing before.”
The injury has clouded Lynch’s plans for the future and cancelled her participation in basketball and softball.
“For basketball, it would have been my last basketball season,” she said. “I’m probably not going to play competitive basketball again, which is really heartbreaking for me.”
Lynch will have surgery on Nov. 24, the delay to see if her partially torn MCL and patella tendon can heal on their own before that time. Although she will not be on the court or diamond, she has no intention of walking away from sports.
“For basketball, I’m definitely going to attend practices and try to make it to all the games if I’m not doing physical therapy for my knee,” she said. “Also, for softball, I would love to watch the games, help my other players even when I’m injured.
“I always liked to coach. I didn’t know if I liked critiquing my own players because I just felt awkward sometimes doing that. I think I have a really good eye for observing the game off the field. One day I filmed from the top just so I could see our form and observe the game, so I think I’d really enjoy coaching as I grow older, and even if I have my own kids one day, I’d love to do that.”
Lynch, who has had experience coaching four- and five-year-olds, has stepped into a leadership role seamlessly.
“I never even really named a captain because it was so obvious it was Phoebe,” Gould said.
Lynch says she can’t do nothing and cannot imagine her life without sports.
“I have always been playing,” she said. “Sports just keeps me on track even with my academics. I’m ahead of the game when I’m doing my schoolwork.
“Sports have definitely had a big impact. Freshman year my friends and I were going into preseason, and we were nervous. All the girls were so welcoming, and it was great to have an older group of friends along with the friends I already had. I felt so welcomed in the school community just by being an athlete. I met so many great people that I’m still really good friends with that are in college now playing sports.”
As for playing collegiate soccer herself, Lynch isn’t sure.
“I was not 100 percent sure even before my injury,” she said. “Even if I wasn’t playing on a varsity team, I would want to play club, but I was looking at some D3 schools.
Lynch was considering several Centennial Conference schools.
“I’m still talking with some of those coaches,” she said. “I’m just debating where I’m at. They all said the same thing – they’ll still take me on the team.
“I don’t know how I’m going to come back. I would love to come back as strong as I was. That’s my goal.”
Since freshman year, Lynch has been a member of Lower Moreland’s Student Athletic Advisory Committee, a group of athletes in grades 10-12 that come up with ideas to help make the athletic experience as a whole better.
“It started out with just five athletes from Lower Moreland, and we travelled to other schools and talked with other athletes when we were in the BAL,” Lynch said. “That was really cool to learn about everyone else’s experiences as athletes.
“I’ve learned so many valuable things. In middle school and throughout my early life, I always used to beat myself up.
“I think Student Athletic Advisory Committee helped me become less stressed out and helped me not beat myself up after I made a mistake. It taught me a lot of valuable lessons.”
Lynch is also the family relations captain for Lower Moreland’s Mini-THON, which raises money to fight pediatric cancer.
“I talk with the families of patients with pediatric cancer and invite them to come speak at our Mini-THON,” she said. “That has been so rewarding for me just to get a perspective of how hard it is for them to have a loved one going through pediatric cancer. The stories they tell are amazing. I love being involved with that.”
An excellent student, Lynch is uncertain of her major but she is looking to attend a strong academic institution next year, noting that academics will always be her top priority.
“She’s really smart in the classroom, and she’s a great soccer player,” Gould said. “She’s just a great kid and super likable. Even the older girls that played with her when they were younger in high school – they all have good things to say about her. She’s just a high character kid.”
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