Lynch (’18) brings engineering mind, gift for teaching to helm of archery program
There is a professional connection between Liberty University’s outgoing archery Head Coach Ben Summers (’97) and his successor for the spring semester, former Flames archer Jason Lynch (’18), who served as his assistant coach this fall.
Summers, Vice President of T.R.U. Ball/AXCEL, an archery equipment manufacturer in nearby Madison Heights, Va., has an uncle, Dan Summers, who is the founder and owner of Quality Archery Design (QAD), located just across the street, where Lynch works as an engineer.
“I’ve known Ben for a while, even before I started serving as his assistant coach,” Lynch said. “It will be good for the team to have the support of both companies.”
Ben Summers, who was named head coach in July 2019, made the difficult decision to step down mid-season after traveling to South Korea and London on business in recent weeks . He will be on the road representing T.R.U. Ball/AXCEL nationally and internationally for all but three days in the first six weeks of 2022 and needs to spend those days with his family.
He believes Lynch will be a natural in his new role, as he is at his current job at QAD.
“As an engineer at one of the most prestigious companies in archery, Jason has the knowledge of archery equipment at an extremely detailed level,” Summers said. “I have seen him apply that knowledge often when any of (Liberty’s archers) have a problem with (their) gear.”
Lynch started at QAD in May 2018, soon after graduating from Liberty with an B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
“He is one of our engineers, and he is very well skilled at archery, there’s no doubt about that,” QAD Office Manager Brian Moore said. “He does a lot of designing for us, perfecting the project. We typically do amateur archery events that we set up for fun, and he takes a good lead role in training folks, including myself, how to properly use the bow. We had a co-ed archery class after work for several months and he does a phenomenal job as far as coaching the employees at those types of events. He has a way of explaining things so that they can understand.”
Summers said his passion for the sport of archery, and his loyalty to Liberty’s program, is evident.
“Jason has a dedication to this team that is unparalleled, and I believe that he will take Liberty University Archery to the next level of success,” he said. “As a USA Archery-certified instructor and former USCA National Champion archer, Jason has the book knowledge and past experience to coach proper archery form.”
Lynch is committed to helping the program reach new heights at the regional and national levels and to send out archers as arrows and disciple-makers in their respective fields after graduation.
“As a Christian man, Jason is a good man who loves God, loves our university, and loves our community, and I am sure that he will teach our student athletes how to be engaging Christians in a dark world,” Summers said. “Jason has an extremely deep love for the team. His enthusiasm will be infectious, attract countless people to our team, and recruit dozens of students to our university. Most importantly, Jason has the time and energy to devote to being an excellent coach for several years to come.”
Though today is Summers’ last day at the helm, he is willing to help Lynch in the transition in any way possible, albeit mostly remotely. He will certainly see him when he travels to represent his company at some of the same tournaments the Flames will compete in this spring, including one in Lancaster, Pa., to start the semester.
“Coaching takes a lot of behind-the-scenes planning and paperwork, and you can believe that I will help Jason with everything he needs to keep the team going strong,” Summers said. “I will be there for him whenever he needs me, but I am confident that he will take the reins and be a strong leader. He is a good man with a good heart and has been trained for such a time as this.”
Lynch won a United States Collegiate Archery (USCA) 3D National Championship in men’s bowhunting in October 2017 with Spencer Foster and current graduate Louis Boyd, under Flames 10-time national champion Ian Rigney, who was in his first season as head coach.
Besides Summers and Rigney, another former Liberty Head Coach, Mitch Reno, helped mentor Lynch and equip him for this current opportunity.
“I’m really excited about it,” said Lynch, who was introduced to the sport by a youth group leader and mentor when he was in high school. “It’s something I fell in love with right away and it’s been a huge part of my life. The team is really close to my heart as I have been involved in it for a long time, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to lead it into the future.”
Lynch has noticed a major change in the team’s composition since his freshman year in 2014.
“When I first joined the team, we were pretty much all hunters, and we had a handful of people who had come up through the National Archery and Schools Program,” he said. “We had nearly all men when I first joined, with one woman bowhunter, so it has been great to see the team grow and to see more women participants. They’re very competitive.”
Lynch has realistic goals for the near future as he trains the archers to continue to thrive.
“This semester, with some of them entering their first indoor competitions and some being more experienced, I would like to see the team grow and mature and mentor one another,” he said. “It’s a big step going from the high school archery programs to collegiate archery, and it is definitely a learning curve, but they’ve taken to it really well. I will try to do the best I can to give them an environment to grow and learn and excel in the sport.”
He said the Lancaster tournament will be an excellent opportunity for the archers to hone their indoor skills before they travel in late February to compete in the USA Archery Regionals hosted by JMU in Harrisonburg, Va.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer