By Fancy Robbins
Back in 1997, the IHSAA State Championship in boys’ basketball was a single-class tournament for the final time. What makes this even more special is that our own small Delta High School was the state runner-up.
This was the senior year for Billy Lynch, who contributed heavily to the history made in the athletics program at Delta. Lynch was the starting point guard on the varsity basketball team, a starting wide receiver for the varsity football team, and a starting outfielder on the varsity baseball team.
He also received the Arthur L. Trester award, which is awarded to a high school senior playing in the state basketball finals who excels in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability.
In the fall that year, Delta’s football team had an undefeated regular season. In the spring, the baseball team won sectionals following the basketball team’s amazing run.
Lynch’s accomplishments in his high school career led him to a successful coaching career in college football. Now he’s back at Delta to help coach the basketball and football programs.
Before becoming a coach, Lynch also played basketball and football at Ball State University. He lettered three years in each.
“I think it is important for our players to be around a guy that played here and has gone on to so much success,” Delta varsity basketball head coach Mark Detweiler said.
The 2022-23 football and basketball seasons were the first ones Lynch has ever coached in a high school. Throughout his years of coaching football, he spent time at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio for three seasons, Indiana University in Bloomington for six seasons, and Rice University in Houston, Texas for seven seasons.
After spending 16 seasons of coaching college football, Lynch does not have any intentions of doing it again.
“Really it just came down to family goals over personal goals. (My wife) Carla and I discussed the decision and prayed about it a lot and just decided that for our family dynamic it would be a lot more beneficial if I got out of college coaching,” Lynch said. “It has been great for me because I have been able to spend a lot more time with Carla and the kids compared to when I was coaching.”
During the season, Lynch would have to wake up early in the morning and would get home late at night. In the offseason, he would have to travel for recruitment. The only time he would get a vacation would be three weeks during July.
“Both coaching in college and high school are very rewarding but with the age of our kids and our family’s priorities right now, high school is definitely a better fit for me,” Lynch said.
Carla and Billy have four children: Lindsey (16), Max (14), Ryan (13) and Mikey (9).
Lynch is in a family full of Division 1 football college coaches. His brother, Joey Lynch, is an assistant coach at Vanderblit University. Another brother, Kevin Lynch, is an assistant coach at Ball State University. His father, Bill Lynch, retired from coaching in 2020 but coached at numerous colleges. His most notable was being the head football coach at Indiana University from 2007-2010. He was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
Bill also helped with the Delta football team this past season.
“Billy and his dad Bill have a lot of time with multiple levels of football, they have a lot of time with the (Division 1) level, so it’s just nice having resources like that to make our staff stronger and they bring lots of knowledge,” varsity football head coach Chris Overholt said.
This past football season was not our best with a record of 3-7, but Lynch remains optimistic. “I think this year set the stage for Delta Football to do great things in the very near future,” Billy Lynch said.
Lynch called the plays for the Eagles and was the offensive coordinator, but he also decided to join the basketball coaching staff as an assistant coach.
“Even though he hasn’t had much experience coaching basketball, it is already easy to see why he had so much success as a player and coach,” Detweiler said.
Lynch finds many differences between coaching in high school and college.
“In college you have the opportunity to work with the kids year round. In HS only getting one season (football season) I did not feel like I had as many opportunities to make an impact,” Lynch said.
Lynch enjoys coaching the high school athletes, but he doesn’t want to pursue the job of head coach in any sport. After leaving Rice University he got a career job of being an Enterprise Account Executive at a software management company called Indeavor.
“We loved Texas, but my new career allowed us to get back closer to cousins, grandparents, etc., and go to Delta!” Lynch said.
He added: “I simply enjoy being around the kids and trying to use my past experiences to help the kids and Delta be the best they can be. With my career, I do not have the time to be around as much as I would like. I am very grateful to Coach Overholt and Coach Detweiler for allowing me to spend the time I do have with the staff and players.”
Lynch enjoys making an impact on high school students.
“Coach Lynch helped me mature more in life and in sports,” sophomore football and basketball player Chase Ritchie said.
College athletes are already molded to a degree and are mostly mature so coaches can’t help as much in that aspect.
“The thing that I like more about college is the rules allow you to spend a lot more time with the kids on developing them as athletes,” Lynch said.
One thing that Lynch doesn’t like about coaching college athletes is having responsibility over them 24/7, compared to high school athletes having parents that are responsible when they aren’t playing or at school.
Some of the most important qualities Lynch thinks that he holds in coaching are passion, enthusiasm, joy, knowledge, experience and honesty.
“(Lynch) understands how to lead people, and brings an energy that kids respond to,” Detweiler said.
“(Lynch) can motivate me and the other players easily,” Ritchie said.
Other players, such as juniors D’Amare Hood and Jonny Manor, play both football and basketball and believe Lynch’s knowledge and experience help tremendously.
“He gives good advice and helps me on what to do,” Hood said. “He’s a good mentor in both sports.”
Manor is related to Billy and the Lynch family. His mother is Billy’s sister Kelly. Jonny wants to eventually coach in the future like much of his family has.
Although Lynch has only been coaching at Delta for a few months, he’s already made some great memories.
“My favorite memories coaching at Delta were probably this year’s Muncie Central football game and the Connersville vs. Delta game because it was my first basketball game, and we won both,” Lynch said.
He added: “My favorite college memories were the 2007 Purdue game because it clinched our 1st bowl game at Indiana University. Also the 2013 Conference USA championship game vs. Marshall because it was Rice’s first conference championship in 50 years.”
Lynch’s time spent as a three-sport star athlete at Delta, coaching at colleges and now coaching here at Delta have created a lifetime of memories. Now, he has accomplished a full circle.
“To come back and give back to the place he grew up … that says a lot about him,” Detweiler said.