Football, family were Lynch's life
Late Suitland coach's pink shirt ritual a tribute to his mother
Scattered throughout the bleachers were family members and friends of Lynch, many of whom were wearing pink shirts.
Lynch, Suitland's longtime football coach, died in a car accident Dec. 31. The pink shirts, which also were worn by members of Suitland's coaching staff and Henry A. Wise High coach DaLawn Parrish, were a reminder of what Lynch meant to those who loved him the most. Lynch wore a pink shirt one game each season to remember the one person he loved the most -- his mother, Doris Lynch.
Nick Lynch put Suitland High School's football program on the map, leading it to 10 playoff appearances, 14 playoff wins, Class 4A state championships in 2004 and 2006 and state runner-up honors in 1997 and 1998.
Lynch was an inspiration for his team, but his mother was the greatest inspiration for him.
All in the family
To say football is the lifeblood of the Lynch family would be an understatement. Nick and brothers Keith Lynch, Zack Lynch and Abdul-Rahim Muhammad played from their childhood through high school. Keith coached Suitland's JV team to a 10-0 record in 1995. Three of Nick's sisters – Frankie, Kim Hopkins and Tracey – were cheerleaders with Glenarden Boys and Girls Club.
And at the center of the family was Doris Lynch, who coached the girls in cheerleading at Glenarden and attended countless football games.
Doris never saw Nick, her youngest son, during his tenure as Suitland's head coach. She died of breast cancer in 1995, the year before Nick took over the Rams. His pink shirt ritual was his tribute to her.
"Nicky was inspired by my mother," Muhammad said. "No one person had more inspiration toward him."
David Lynch Jr., Nick's son, played at linebacker for his father at Suitland from 2000-03. In 2004, while he was playing at Division II West Virginia Tech, he drove five-plus hours with a friend from West Virginia to Maryland to see his father coach Suitland in the state championship game against Damascus.
"I know how much it meant to a lot of people to win that title that year," said David Lynch. "I was there when we lost to Seneca Valley in the final game [in 1998]. I saw how angry my father was after that game. ... [My grandmother] was a Lynch, she had a fiery personality. That's where it came from with my father."
Nick's oldest sibling, LaFondra Jackson, said football was an important part of the family's life.
"Mom would go to the boys club and high school games and she would go onto the field after the game and offer her opinion on the games to the coaches," said Jackson. "Everyone knew who she was. She was a football nut. On Sundays, she watched games and cooked dinner. She would watch game after game after game. She loved her family and she also loved football."
"All of my brothers played football," said Keith Lynch. "Mom would go see me play and then go see Nicky play, and then would go see Rahim play and then go see Zack play, all on the same day. She liked doing that. She was our support."
Keith, a preacher of 25 years at First Baptist Church in Glenarden, got married on March 26, which is Nick's birthday. He said he chose that date to honor his brother. Keith presided over both Doris and Nick's funerals.
Jamarr Lynch, Nick's oldest nephew, played football for his uncle for two seasons. He later returned to Suitland as a junior varsity cornerback coach from 2000-03. Jamarr is now a musician with an R&B go-go band called The Firm Project, which performs on Saturdays at House of Chain in Fort Washington.
"I wrote a song for my uncle Nick before his funeral and I dedicated it to him," said Jamarr. "I titled it 'This Is The One I Could Not Miss, Rest In Peace To My Uncle Nick.' We end our show with that song."
The Rams family
Lynch's death affected those beyond his immediate family. It stretches into his football family as well, among them Navarro Bowman, one of the key players on Suitland's 2004 state championship team.
"Coach Lynch was always there for me with any aspect of my life," said Bowman, now a senior linebacker at Penn State University. "With me being as good as I was in football, he also made sure I was prepared for life off the field. He would tell me that football is not always about what life is about off the field."
Bowman's father, Hillard Bowman, died suddenly of a blood clot in June of 2008. Navarro said when he came home to District Heights after losing his father, Lynch was "there on my front porch waiting for me."
"I dedicated the  season to my father," said Bowman. "He was at every one of my games. He was so excited to see me play. Then the night before our [Rose] Bowl game later that season, I got a knock on my door and that was when I got the news of coach Lynch. It was devastating. The two people that wanted to see me succeed more than anyone, my father and coach Lynch, I lost both of them last season."
Bowman didn't let Lynch's passing affect him in the Rose Bowl against Southern California. He used it for motivation to record a Rose Bowl-record five tackles for losses, and finished with eight tackles and one sack.
In addition to Saturday night's kickoff event, where the Rams lost to Henry A. Wise, 14-7, Suitland High has plans to honor Lynch at its home game Sept. 12 against Bladensburg. The school's football stadium officially will be renamed in his honor that afternoon.
And in that way, the Lynch family football legacy will live on at Suitland.
"I keep looking for Nicky, but he's not there," Frankie Lynch said during Saturday's game. "The game's not the same now. It's different with him not being out there. It's just different."