BY JEFF FALK
MYERSTOWN – Not unlike scores of female student-athletes in Lebanon County, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association forced Becky Lynch to choose.
But unlike the rest of those student-athletes, Lynch decided not to decide.
What Lynch has discovered is that all decisions are accompanied by ramifications.
A few years ago, the PIAA announced it would be moving girls’ soccer from the spring to the fall scholastic sports season. That move came into effect this fall, affecting hundreds of girls across the state who had competed in both of the somewhat similar sports.
Lynch was one of those affected. But instead of eliminating one of those pursuits, Lynch chose to play both.
Lynch is a senior on the Elco field hockey team. She’s also a member of the Raiders’ girls’ soccer squad.
To say that her experiences in each sport this fall have been different would be an understatement.
“It was definitely a hard decision,” said Lynch. “A day didn’t go past when people would come up to me and say, ‘Which are you going to choose?’ I just couldn’t see myself not playing either, so I worked out a way to play both.”
On the field hockey field, Lynch is an active defender, leader and major contributor. But in that sport, the Raiders struggled with their wins and losses, and are staring down the possibility of a third straight sub .500 campaign.
“It’s (field hockey) been really fun,” said Lynch, “but the games are difficult because we’re not performing well. I like that I get to play a lot.
“I heard girls’ soccer was moving to the fall during my freshman year,” Lynch added. “At that point, I was going to choose soccer. That was my decision up until this spring. But I heard that field hockey was in need of good players.”
On Elco’s successful girls’ soccer team, Lynch doesn’t get to play much at all. Her role has been reduced to one of support, keeping the scorebook and offering words of encouragement to her teammates.
“The team’s doing well,” said Lynch. “I don’t get a lot of playing time. I think it’s because they’re (the Elco coaches) disappointed I chose field hockey over soccer. I’m just support on the bench.
“When they’re putting other players in, they could put me in,” continued Lynch. “I guess I do feel slighted. I can’t make practices. Soccer practices are only an hour. In field hockey, we practice for two hours. I’m in better shape than most of the girls on the soccer team.”
“She’s practiced with us two or three times,” said Elco girls’ soccer coach Steve Keller. “She could do other things. She’s played soccer with these girls all those years. Sometimes there’s more to the game than playing. She chose field hockey, but chooses to be with her friends (on the soccer team) socially.”
Lynch has been playing soccer since she was four years old. She only began playing field hockey six years ago.
“I like soccer more,” said Lynch. “I wasn’t getting playing time. I had to make one my primary sport, so I figured field hockey because I was getting more playing time.
“When I was a freshman, I thought that was going to be my last season of field hockey,” Lynch added. “Last year was my first season back after tearing my ACL. I put a lot of work in and wasn’t rewarded. I worked so hard. I had so much to give.”
Had the PIAA not decided to move girls’ soccer to the fall, the conflict she is currently experiencing wouldn’t exist.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” said Lynch. “I would’ve played each like I normally would have. I would like to play sports in college, but we’re really not looked upon as a field hockey school. I wish it wasn’t, but this is probably the last time I ‘m going to play (either soccer or field hockey).
“It’s (number of friends on each team) pretty equal,” continued Lynch. “I get along with a lot of people. In field hockey, we’re pretty open. Right now, I don’t have a lot of ties because a lot of my friends graduated. It’s very difficult to sit on the bench. It’s like I’m injured again. A lot of people ask me, ‘Are you injured?'”
Whether Lynch’s decision not to decided was the right one is fodder for debate. But to her credit, she has honored that decision by sticking to it.
“I don’t know if I made the right decision,” said Lynch. “I don’t have a lot of free time. In field hockey I was guaranteed playing time. Not being rewarded for hard work is stressful, and it wears you out.”