Lynch comes from volleyball family, Leach is his niece

Dan Lynch, shown here moments after Burlington won the state title Nov. 4 in Green Bay, grew up in Wauwatosa, where his sisters were state champions as players and his brother won a state title as coach. Lynch now has three state titles. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk

Thirty years ago, the volleyball landscape was much different.

There weren’t any clubs, only four or five high school programs were dominant and studying film was a foreign language.

A young, wide-eyed 24-year-old took over the reigns as the Burlington girls volleyball head coach.

His name is Dan Lynch, a former player from Wauwatosa coming from a big family of seven, including two sisters that won high school state titles as players at Wauwatosa East.

Furthermore, Lynch’s brother coached the Red Raiders to two state championships. Now, he and his wife coach at Iowa State University.

“My whole family is in volleyball,” Lynch said at his home Tuesday. “My dad still plays in the Senior Olympics, he’s 85.”

“We kind of grew up with the ball in our hand.”

Lynch, 53, said he’d rather be playing than coaching, but he joked that his body is too old to play.

The Burlington co-head coach, who just capped his 29th season with his third state championship in seven years, still loves the game he grew up with and shows no signs of slowing down.

Burlington Standard Press Sports Editor Mike Ramczyk sat down with Lynch in his dining room Tuesday afternoon to discuss volleyball, winning and the history of the Demons.


MR: Take me through your final point of Saturday’s win.

DL: I saw the blocking matchup, and I was like, ‘Oh, we’re going to win. Their right side blocker wasn’t that big, and their middle was really late closing.


MR: Is there any difference between this title and the ones in 2011 and 2012?

DL: It’s the same feeling. It’s always your goal. We had been to the title game last year, so a lot of girls had seen the court.


MR: What’s your relationship with co-head coach Teri Leach?

DL: I’m her godfather and uncle, so I’ve known her my whole life. She played for me (1998-2001), and wanted to get into coaching. She became co-head coach about 10 years ago.


MR: It seems only Teri speaks to the media. Was it always like that?

DL: That changed. She had a cell phone. I always spoke to the media, and then when cell phones became more prominent, she could call from the bus after games.


MR: What are the coaching roles?

DL: Things just fall naturally. If I do it, then Teri doesn’t, if she does it, then I don’t. And Madalyn (McDonald) really helped us with our blocking this year. She brought in some new techniques from her club team. We implemented that. Brittney (Neu) has been breaking down film, and she has a little more time on her hands. We (Teri and I) have full-time jobs. Brittney is so experienced. She’s an All-American out of Wisconsin (Badgers). One of the young kid’s parents called and said, “We have a Badger living next door to us that plays volleyball.” So we got her on the phone and got her involved right away. Four of the five coaches played for me.


MR: How was the competition in the state this year?

DL: There’s a lot more parity. Thirty years ago, there were four or five teams, maybe more like two or three, that could possibly win it. I don’t really care that teams are better, I’d rather just win every game.

More kids are playing club. Back then, there was no way in hell mom and dad were going to play for club. It more and more became, oh, we’re going to have to do this in order to even play in high school, so now everybody does it.


MR: So volleyball specialization, though, isn’t necessary?

DL: Some kids only play volleyball, some play multiple sports. In our history, the ones that play year-round are better, but they can also play other sports. Last year, we had Megan Wallace. She played all three sports, and club volleyball. The same with Mackenzie Zwiebel.


MR: What did you guys do during the state weekend when you weren’t playing?

DL: Some of the kids went to the mall. We ate as a team.


MR: Take me through the day of the state title match.

DL: Brittney and I watched film in the morning, and she charted out everything they were doing, and we looked at their defense. We met with the team in the locker room before the match, and we went over the game plan.

We were nervous when it tied at 2-2. It was tense. It’s a lot easier as a player. You just have to focus on the next ball. You can’t sit and dwell on what happened.


MR: What will it take to keep this success going?

DL: Talent. You can’t win without talent. Talk to any coach. We’ve been fortunate to have talent. They’re mostly from Burlington.


MR: What will you remember the most about this season?

DL: Winning. If you’re not having fun, you’re probably not going to win. Winning makes it more fun. We tend to get players with a passion for the game.


MR: What are you up to in the offseason?

DL: I will do intramurals at Dyer. All summer long, we will do our camps. I do not coach club.


MR: How long has film been important?

DL: We just started this year. Teri and I just don’t have time. College coaches can watch film all day. We have class. We just started, and Brittney was willing to break it down. Teri and I are learning more about that.

We’re still figuring it out. We might have to start filming our matches. We don’t tape our games, because there isn’t time to watch them.

Brittney’s ability to break down film and help us come up with a game plan was excellent.

She is from Waupun and won four straight titles as a player. One of the best, if not the best, that Wisconsin has ever had. Her willingness to work with us is unbelievable.


MR: What is “in system?”

DL: If you’re in system, you can use all three of your hitters. So the opponent doesn’t know which one you’re going to set.

Out of system, you’re pretty much chucking the ball to your outside hitter, and everyone in the gym knows that’s where the ball’s going.

On the final point, Blake could set anybody, she didn’t have to move. They couldn’t just take off and put a double block on Abby, because the middle would’ve been wide open.

Kaley would’ve seen that and set the middle.

We want to dig and pass in system.


MR: Your three seniors, Brooklyn, Abby and Tamlyn, are all playing college volleyball. Is that rare?

DL: No, we’ve never had that. They’re great kids, great students.


MR: You have to be excited about the future of this team?

DL: There’s still some talent. We lose a lot, but it’s about what are you going to do in the offseason?

Throughout the years, we make players learn multiple positions. They’re not going to do that in college, but they know that if we want to win, they have to do that. If they want to make it about “me” instead of “team,” we’re pretty much going to tell you you should’ve gone and played tennis, or swimming.

We’ve not really had to have that nasty of a conversation, they just get it.


MR: Talk about the impact of Brooklyn and Abby.

DL: It’s rare, because she played every single position.

She hit outside, she hit inside, she played libero, she set, she played DS (defensive specialist). These kids play so much volleyball, there’s a good chance you played a lot of positions.

Sand volleyball helped her, because you have to be able to do anything. She willingly did whatever we asked her to do.

She never eye-rolled us, she just did her job. She put the team ahead of herself. I’m sure Abby would tell you, she would never be first team all-state if she didn’t have this team.

She gets the award, but it’s because of her team. You should’ve seen Grace Peyron. She’s a huge blocker, and Abby had to figure out how to get around her every day in practice.

Grace was blocking her, and Abby would get frustrated. She had to figure out how to get past a bigger block.