Still kicking it after 61 years

U.Va. Professor continues his football career

lf-AllenLynch-CourtesyUVA

His teammates revere Lynch as a team mascot, an accomplished 61-year-old professor who is able to keep up with their exercises and help the team by scoring extra points.  

Courtesy UVA | Cavalier Daily

On early Saturday mornings, University Politics Prof. Allen Lynch would go out to the local high school football field with a bag of footballs. He would kick the footballs to the other end of the field, then fetch them to kick them again. The stands could be filled or empty — an audience didn’t matter to Lynch, as he would practice his kicking simply for the pure joy of it.

While working on a housing project last October with Jamie Davis, owner of the local semi-professional football team, the Virginia Silverbacks, Lynch’s wife inadvertently threw in a word about her husband’s favorite pastime. About two weeks later, Lynch received a phone call from Davis, asking him to come out to tryouts.

“I wound up doing the place kicking — the extra points, field goals and kick-offs – for the Virginia Silverbacks,” Lynch said.

A picture of Lynch — kicking a football during his first Silverbacks game while proudly donning his age and number, 61, on his jersey — is displayed on his office wall. Lynch pointed at the photograph with a smile.

“Do you see that picture over there?” Lynch said. “That’s from my April 1 game — it’s my first point scored in 40 years and 151 days. We’re thinking it will go for the Guinness book. The problem is it is on April 1, so no one will believe it.”

Lynch began playing football at the age of 14, taking his skills from his years playing soccer. He played football throughout high school and on a club team in college, earning a title as All-American at Club Nationals in 1975. Lynch further cultivated his knowledge and ability when his son attended Monticello High School, as he began to teach his son and son’s friends how to kick the ball.

“I ended up learning a lot more about my kicking from teaching them because I never had a kicking coach — I just taught myself,” Lynch said.

His teammates, who are mostly former high-school and college ball players in their twenties and thirties, revere Lynch as a team mascot, an accomplished 61-year-old professor who is able to keep up with their exercises and help the team by scoring extra points. 

“I’m coming back next year if my body holds out,” Lynch said. “One of the things this has certainly done is made me more conscious of the fragility of life. You never know when your last kick is going to be.”

Lynch didn’t pursue his position on the Virginia Silverbacks — he simply kept carrying his bag of footballs to the field Saturday mornings to practice his kicking and maintain his passion for the sport he has known since the age of 14.

“I wasn’t kicking footballs in order to join a semi-pro football team,” Lynch said. “It was just something that was intrinsically pleasurable to me, something I did in my free time.”

Sitting in his office, surrounded by certificates of accomplishment both as an athlete and an intellectual, and the photographs illustrating his years of dedication to the sport — from both now and 40 years ago — Lynch encourages perseverance and commitment to lifelong passions.

“The main thing is, be prepared, because you never know about opportunity,” Lynch said. “Never give up. Keep up your skills. Do what you love.”

related stories