More than ‘MY’ Dad

Dad and me at Drake Relays
Dad and Me, Relays 2006 after I qualified for Nationals

My dad is sick.  He needs healing- supernatural healing.  I’m praying for that.  And I’m asking, if you’re reading this- that you pray that with me.  “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe you’ve received it, it will be yours.” Mark 11:24

If there is one thing you should know about my dad, it’s that he is a coach.  He can’t help it.  For thirty years he was employed as a track coach, so that was his title, “Coach Lynn.”  But coach he is in every breath. Just last weekend he helped my husband put up a microwave and I could hear him in there, “Okay, first we got to put this in… hold it here… sometimes you don’t always get it on the first try…”  Instead of just playing with my boys, he’ll coach them. “Hold the bat here… put your elbow here…don’t jump from that high, you’ll hurt your knees…”  Sometimes I would find it almost annoying, “Gosh dad, just let me bowl! I don’t care if I release at the wrong angle!” However, his ability to be coach is the reason I insisted on learning to drive with him and not my mom!  Or why I always call him first when I need advice on how to talk to someone, or how to explain something.  It’s his gift- to be a counselor, a teacher, an inspiration- a coach.

I remember my first day of practice as a freshman on the ISU track team.  My dad officially coached the men, but with track it really was a united co-ed team.  I was walking outside with two seniors, and my dad was walking passed us in the other direction.  I had a silent quandary in my head, “Do I call him Coach, Coach Lynn, Dad, say nothing?”  As he passed, the other girls were “Hey Coach!” “Hey Coach Lynn!” I’m thinking, ah crap, now I have to say something… “Hi Coach” I mutter out, you know because I had to fit in.  And that’s when I realized, he’s “Dad” to me.

Since Friday night, I have received phone calls, text messages, and posts and messages on Facebook reaching out to my dad.  Words of “I Love You, Coach!” “Praying for you, Coach!”  “Wish I could be there, Coach!” “Be your stubborn self, Coach!”  I made a Facebook Invitation page, ignorantly not knowing how to get the word out, Prayers For Coach, and already it has over 200 members and 500 likes.  Hearing those words, the concern, the despair and frustration, the hope and the prayers, I realize, he’s more than just ‘my’ dad.  He has been a father to so many.

Growing up, I remember him sharing stories about his guys and practice.  About the time a sassy, confident kid from New York came to the middle of Iowa and almost laughed at the idea of running next to a white farm kid- only to be blown out of the blocks by that farm kid!  (LaMont, he tells that story a lot!). And how it was always the big throwers who would get emotional at the senior banquet. Even all the arguments that took place at practice, like what’s more important, an Olympic Gold medal or a World Record? And how before they had a facility, and the guys would race from soda machine to soda machine around Hilton.  I also remember a time, and I don’t know the exact details, but some coach somewhere got in trouble because an athlete of his had just lost his mother and he let that kid stay the night in his house.  My dad was so infuriated by the fact that coach got in trouble. Saying he’d have done the same thing, regardless if he were fired or not.  And I know he would have.

He loved his guys- and the girls too.  To him it was never about how fast they were, it was about the men and women they became.  He realized they were kids, they needed to have fun, they needed consequences, they needed to figure it out for themselves.  He has never judged an athlete for choices, never condemned them, or resented them.  He has always loved them- ALWAYS.

In fact, when he was let go from his title of “Coach Lynn” that’s what they told him, “Your downfall is that you put people first and not performance.”  What a shame!  Is that what certain people define as “Coach” these days?  To them I say,  good -riddance.

It is obvious to me, sitting here next to my dad in the hospital, who is now moving his foot when you touch him and slowly starting to breathe on his own, that not only is he loved, and not only is the power of prayer extremely evident, but that this Coach is the true definition, the true role-model of what a coach should be- a dad.  Someone who loves unconditionally and without expectation.  Someone who gives and gives.  Who brags and brags about accomplishments both big and small.  A coach is someone who tells stories to make a point (even if you’ve heard that story before- or 10 times before).  Who will stay late, come early, and travel hundreds of miles to be with you.  A REAL coach is no different than what a DAD should be.  Someone who is there for you.

Thanks Dad, for being there for me- always. For being so much to so many.  Know we are ALL here for you now.  We are praying for and declaring your healing.  We know you’ll be back- our Coach- our Dad!

4 generation picture
4 Generations- My dad, grandpa and my boys
State Track
Dad there to celebrate my high school girls State Track Championship this May ’12

“If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.  When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” Psalm 91

Love you, Erica

*The doctors have encouraged us to talk to him. If you would like to write something to my dad, we will read it to him.  You can comment here or email me,

41 thoughts on “More than ‘MY’ Dad

  1. Wow, what a beautiful tribute to your dad, Erica! I know he is so proud of his family!

    We are pulling for you, Steve, knowing that if anyone has the strength to fully recover, it’s you! Prayers are being said constantly. Hope you don’t mind that the Presbyterians prayed for you at church today.:)

    Dave and Susan Tucker


  2. Steve,
    I remember when I hired Kevin Bourke and you were so upset; not because Kevin was leaving coaching, but you wouldn’t have your best friend around you every day. I also remember years ago when i was coaching basketball, coming over to visit you all in State Gym and then seeing you cheer your heart out for our basketball team.
    I always thought after you left coaching ISU should have hired you since you loved ISU so much. Well, we all love you too and are praying for your support.
    Your daughter wrote a beautiful blog and she should read that to you every day until you are well, cause that will definitely make you feel better and want to hug her. Jim Hallihan


  3. Dear Coach Lynn,

    Calling you anything but Coach Lynn just doesn’t seem right. I’m sure Erica’s heartfelt tribute will bring tears to your eyes as it has mine. Her Love and admiration for her Dad and Coach will make you even more proud than you already are.

    Our thoughts and prayers will be with you as you clear this “hurdle.”


    Craig, Diane, Brittany (Hartwell) and Alex Rover


  4. Steve
    You have so many people- friends, acquaintances, past students, family, peers, and of course K’Lynn’s sorority sisters praying for your full recovery. You are all in our thoughts.
    Your daughter has written a beautiful blog of how much you are loved by her and others.
    Phyllis & Dave Craig


  5. Steve, Your fraternity brothers are praying for you to recover fully. They want to tease you when you are all better and can enjoy their silliness. Lindy and Turf and BG have been talking about you. I remember when a bunch of them all got together to paint your parent’s house. And you all sat around at the beginning… something about where to start the job. Then Turf said: The hardest part’s getting started. And ever since I heard that all those years ago… that comes to mind over and over again. So it’s time for you to get started healing and get back to your ornery self. We’re cheering for you!!!! Your fellow Oskaloosa friend, Barb Lindenmayer What a great idea for your daughter to get word about you out to your peeps~


  6. In the name of Jesus we proclaim full hearing and restoration to Coach Lynn and may the entire Lynn family have peace and comfort knowing that he who is above all names has the power and desire to heal and deliver. Amen.


  7. Erica, What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. Our prayers are with you and give your Mom a hug from me. Coach Lynn has always been strong, commited and determined, and those attributes will serve him well in the days ahead. If there was anything our family could do to help, we’d be there in a heartbeat. Steve, hand in there strong as your next journey begins. Love to you all! Anne and Hank Kohler


  8. Erica, praying for Steve and all your family at this time. Give your mom
    a big hug and please keep us updated on your dad’s progress. He is a very strong man- and loved by so many!


  9. Lynn Family,
    What a lovely letter Erica. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you for a full recovery for your dad, grandfather and husband.
    Leesa Thorgaard


  10. Steve, Praying for strength and healing! I only knew Steve as a smiling, happy go lucky golfer! Hope to see you on the course again! “Persist in Prayer – heart and minds will change.”


  11. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I hope “Coach” will have a fast and healthy recovery. I’m sure a whole lot of people want to see him “at work” again. Your family will be in my prayers. God bless you and your dad. 🙂


  12. Thank you for sharing this amazing story. I hope “Coach” will have a fast and healthy recovery. I’m sure a whole lot of people want to see him “at work” again. Your family will be in my prayers. God bless you and your dad. 🙂


  13. Praying for you Steve. Though we’ve not been in contact since high school, I’ve always been touched how you’ve always been there for Susie, and from the testimony of your daughter, many, many more. Take care and get better.


  14. Steve our prayers are with you and your family. You are so strong and have always been determined so keep being the fighter and feel Gods healing powers. Sue and John Heslinga


  15. Very nice Erica – Everyone who has ever met Steve has heard those stories 10 times…. or more. I only hope we get to hear them 10 more! Hang in there Steve. We are all praying (and cheering) for you. God Bless.


  16. What you wrote was perfect. I knew your dad while he was coaching with my husband at UNI. We are praying for Steve. Travis enjoyed his time coaching with Steve and speaks VERY fondly of him! Please tell Steve that we are thinking of him. Let him know what a difference he has made in our lives and that Travis is a WAY better coach from working with him. 😉


  17. Steve. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family and to the Doctors helping you. You are a strong guy and God is with you at all times.


  18. Thoughts and prayers for Coach Steve Lynn and your whole family! I always enjoyed my conversations with Steve when I was at Iowa State. Great man! I wish you all the best on a swift and string recovery. God bless you all.


  19. It was honor to watch your Daddy coach! Just wanted to say hello and tell you that your family is in my prayers. Just tell him Big Willy says hello.
    God Bless
    Will Wabaunsee


  20. Steve, I read your daughter’s tribute to you, and I was very touched. I’m not sure if you will remember me from Osky High or not — I was Susan Young at that time. I will be praying for God to grant you a full recovery so that you may enjoy your family for many years to come.


  21. What a terrific tribute to Coach Lynn and Dad! I may noy know Coach personally, but since my
    friend has passed this on message on & I am praying for him and your entire family. We all can use prayers!


  22. Hi Erica, This is your dad’s cousin Dan’s daughter. Thank you for sharing these beautiful words about your dad. The whole extended Smith clan is holding him in our hearts and thoughts, and we are so sorry for what you’re going through.


  23. Steve,
    I’ve had the privilege of coaching against you and then coaching with you. On both sides you were the same guy. Great person, great mentor, great coach, all around great guy! It’s been terrific becoming your friend. We’ve all learned a lot from you!! Hey Steve, you remember the time we were in the dome on the turf and I wanted to measure out 13.72 meters to the first hurdle, and you politely showed me it was the same as 15 yards!! I appreciate you not laughing at me too hard!! :-). Love you buddy!! Keep Rockin and Rollin!!


  24. Steve, You are in a tough situation right now, but you have many, many friends, athletes, and family praying for you. Your daughter is so precious with such a gift of sharing who you are and how you have made a difference in other people’s lives. Now those gifts will make a full circle as God’s love surrounds you now and helps heal you. Hang in there, ok?


  25. Cubs win the World Series! Cubs win the World Series! If anything will get a reaction from you, it should be that as we know we don’t hear those words often enough Steve. Seriously, my throughts and prayers are with you. Fight the good fight Coach!


  26. Steve – My memories of you go way back to Osky ( after all, we did live on the same side of town) . You were always strong, sounds like you continued in that vein and have a wonderful daughter and grandsons! My thoughts are with you,… you will pull through!

    Molly Spayde Hallock


  27. Erica, you have such a way with words. This brought tears to my eyes! What an absolute gift.. I KNOW your dad is SO proud of you. Your faith is so evident, and I thank God that He has put you and your family in my life. Coach has been like a father to me, and I agree with every word you have said above. He never stops caring for people and we will never stop caring for him.

    What I would say to him now is this: “Coach Lynn, you are one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. Your track expertise, advice, and positive motivation have helped me become a better athlete, a better person, and now a better coach. I can’t wait to talk with you VERY SOON… as I need some pointers for my upcoming season with my high schoolers! All my love, and God be with you.” -Jummy Alowonle Barlass


  28. Steve . . We haven’t seen each other in many, many years. But my thoughts are with you and your family for you to get better and stronger soon. Best wishes. Reedy


  29. My thoughts are with the Lynn family. I was fortunate to know Steve and proud to call him a friend. You always knew where you stood with Steve. He has touched and help shape many, many peoples lives, including mine. He was one person I knew believed in me when I didn’t feel like many did and I thank him for that. I know all of Steve’s golf family is there and I wish I could be too. Steve was a great husband, father, coach and friend. It has been tough to keep my eyes dry tonight. Godspeed, Steve. I will miss you!!


  30. Erica,
    Your writing about your Dad is something every parent could only hope to have written by their child. Your Dad was a “best friend” to my brother growing up in Oskaloosa. As the little sister, I watched their antics for years and what pops into my mind today are the many ball games- as Steve was the fiery catcher and remember watching his mask go into the dirt many times and “nose to nose” conversations to those around him 🙂
    He was loving and loyal to my brother “Lou” and our Brock family is heartbroken over your loss. Steve will live in our hearts as we recount the hundreds of stories and memories he shared with Denny. May God bless all of your family and encircle you with love and healing. We are so sorry for your loss…..
    Cheri Brock Loveless


  31. My wife and I cannot attend either of the services for Steve. So this open letter to the Lynn family is not only to them , but also to his pals, friends, acquaintances and family of athletes he wonderfully touched with his life.

    On this road of life, this journey to the enlightenment of the soul, people will enter and exit for a specific purpose to teach us. It will be a parent, it could be a teacher, it may be a coach, but it will definitely be a friend. Steve Lynn was just such a friend to all of us.
    His passion and committment to his given task was quite evident from his beginning, as all of us who competed against him athletically will testify. But in hindsight, if fate chooses to allow us this luxury, hopefully, comes an awareness of the soul of the man, the teacher, the coach and the friend.

    From my own association with my life friend, we had many interactions that are still with me today. His stuffing of the basketball in my face during a grade school game, his anger at me for supposedly stepping across the plate to hit the ball in Babe Ruth baseball,(a discussion of which, to this day, has never been accurately proven by either of us) or when he kindly , gently and compassionately said to me while my deathly ill son Eric was healing, “you know, Eric is a miracle baby, and it is because of you and Deb”!

    His most evident ability to motivate and coach came to me while he was caddying for me during a golf tournament in Texas. He had driven several hundred miles out of his way because (as he would say later) “he knew he could help me”! Vintage Steve Lynn!!! But he was right!

    “We” (as a caddy will say when everything is going well) were very close to first place starting the last round of play. Things started heading the wrong direction from the beginning and he finally took me aside, said something directly to me (a quote that only he could say and I would let him say, due to our years of friendship). Things began to turn around and, although I did not win, I felt as though I had won and his joy for me was quite evident.

    So there you have it everyone…..the essence of the man, my friend….our friend…….

    He would tell me now to “quit blubbering and get on with life”….and he would smile becuse he knows I will… that we will. But the physical presence will be missing, the “get to the point” one line e-mails that said it all…the all too infrequent phone calls that always took up where the last one left off, whether it was 6 months ago or 6 years ago (of which I told him that is how good friends roll)!

    I do not want to end this letter as I could go on with more Lynnism’s that would make you smile….but our time, as with all luxurys in life, is finite.

    For the Lynn family, for all of us, do as Coach Lynn would do…be patient, passionate, loving and be a coach for those who need coaching, a mentor for those who need mentoring and most of all…a friend for those who need friendship.

    We are going to miss you my friend…but we all have had the good fortune to be Coached by You…………

    Your Eternal Friends

    Steve Fry (And Deb Fry)


  32. I’m so sorry to read of you and your family’s loss. Though I never ran for your father, I had high school teammates who did and I ran against some of his Iowa State athletes in the early 90s. Once I got into coaching, our paths crossed frequently and Coach Lynn was always nothing but friendly to me. I was so moved by the news of his passing — just now — and found a link to this blog. I wanted to be counted among those who have expressed condolences to you and your family.

    Jarrin Williams


    1. Lynn family,

      Trish and I send our love and condolences for your terrible loss of Steve. Sorry we could not be there as we are in Virginia taking care of Trish’s parents who have been ill. Our thoughts had definitely been back in Iowa thinking of you all. Jim and Trish Hallihan

      Jim Hallihan

      Iowa Sports Foundation



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