The first interviewee of our “Get to Know Your Ref” series is teacher, lacrosse mom, fan, and women’s referee, Beverly Lynch! After playing under Beverly’s watchful eye for several years, I still almost failed to recognize her without the striped uniform. This time she was not checking my lacrosse stick, or commenting on my fanged mouth guard. She wasn’t telling me to get my toes off the restraining line, nor was she awarding me a much-deserved free position for suffering a brutal check to the head. She was sitting with me– sunglasses, classy summer outfit and all– talking over coffee.
Before the thought of becoming a lacrosse referee even crossed her mind, Beverly was a teacher and lacrosse mom. While not running up and down the field, in her black and white weekend garb, she teaches chemistry and is the CEO of the Lynches, one of the first families of OC lacrosse. The Lynches have been fixtures inside and outside the lines of OC lacrosse games for nearly 10 years. With husband Tim serenely observing (not!) and offering words of encouragement to all referees (double not!) from the sidelines as sons Nolan and Brendan, and daughter Kiere hustle up and down the field for almost a decade, nearly everyone in the OC lacrosse community knows the Lynches. Nolan starred at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School before moving on to Gettysburg College, and coaching for Victory Lacrosse when he is home during the summer. Brendan, who just graduated from JSerra Catholic High School, is on his way to Hofstra University. Youngest sibling, Kiere is still tearing it up closer to home.
After much hard work looking for a place for her son Brendon to start playing, Beverly says, “We came out with hockey helmets,” and soon found teams in their area to start a lacrosse journey. Early coaches Scott Grubert, Glen Miles, Roger Brent, and Mark Warren each added something special to the Lynch family’s lacrosse experience. Coach Warren, for example, shared his philosophy of “giving back” to the lacrosse community. Coach Brent suggested Beverly become a referee.
Like it is today, the girls’ game was in need of trained umpires. “We are constantly looking for officials,” says Beverly. So in 2007, when Coach Brent made his recommendation, Beverly thought, “OK, I can do this! I can be an official. I can give back to the community. I’ll just take what I know from the boys’ game and apply it to the girls’.”
“That,” says Beverly, “was a huge mistake.”
As Beverly explained, boys’ lacrosse is a completely different game from the girls’. It would be a whole new world officiating a game that was far from similar to the one she had been watching her sons play. “I knew absolutely nothing about women’s lacrosse,” says Beverly. Yet he told herself she could do it. “You can’t play a game without officials,” Beverly pointed out, “They are an integral part of the game.”
This appreciation for umpiring grew as Beverly started refereeing. A large contributing factor was getting to know other referees. Seeing as she is now a district-level official and the Umpire Board Vice Chair on the women’s side of our area, Beverly is well-involved in the referee community. Connecting with other officials often starts with pre-game procedures. “Before games, we are introduced to our partners and we talk about how we are going to communicate calls, hand gestures, and so on,” she says. One advantage referees have in the face of harsh crowds, Beverly explains, is how they can blow a whistle to stop the game anytime, and communicate to reach mutual understanding, or to cool hot-headed coaches and fans.
I asked Beverly how she handles “trouble fans”: the fans who yell, “Let ’em play!” or “Bad call, Stripes!” The issue has been a given part of the game to this day. How does a ref handle fans like this, or teams who are the same way? “Rules are woven into the rules,” she told me, “There are ways of handling fans, and that is the card procedure.”
According to the US Lacrosse Women’s Rule Book, “The head coach is responsible for any and all persons officially connected with his or her institution, including assistant coaches, and shall receive any card assessed related to bench decorum. In the event the head coach does not effectively control the actions of her team’s spectators, the head coach may be assessed a card” (Section 35).
“When things aren’t going right, fans focus on the calls and blame officials. But when you put so much power in the ref’s hands, you take power away from the players,” says Beverly. When an unruly fan or coach persists, penalties on the team certainly take away from players’ game. “Refs don’t score the goals,” she says, “players do. Have there been games where I walk away furious? Absolutely. But I still look back and think, ‘What did I do to contribute to that?'”
According to Beverly, unruly sidelines are related to education. Some fans might not know all the details of what they get angry about. Parents and players must be educated, even if it takes multiple calls, to adjust the play to the rules. Safety is of highest priority. Beverly told me, “Starting off, I wasn’t the best, but I was good at keeping the girls safe.” She takes a mother’s protectiveness to every game.
Beverly’s schedule almost exactly mirrors a student athlete’s, since she is also a school teacher. “I teach lacrosse through enforcement of the rules,” she says. Beverly officiates with this perspective and meshes it with Coach Mark Warren’s old philosophy. To be involved in the lacrosse community is giving back to the lacrosse community. Beverly says, “Since having been here, the community has grown, and I am a part of that growth. I’m keeping up with these 17-year-old girls sprinting up and down the field, and I feel proud of myself.”
To give back to your community by becoming an official like Beverly Lynch, check out her brochure below!