Chargers coach found his ‘game-changer’ not on gridiron but in Africa
On a trip to Africa this summer — a journey that required nearly 20 hours in the air — Anthony Lynn did what coaches do whenever they have time.
He worried about his team.
Lynn dissected the Chargers’ roster over and over, checking to see where improvement was needed.
Coming home, he found himself worrying a little less.
“I was like, man, we got all we need,” Lynn said. “We got all we need. Let’s just get this thing done. I had a little different perspective.”
Seeing things he’d never seen before altered the way Lynn sees everything.
He spent a week and a half in northern Tanzania, calling it “definitely a game-changer,” in what Lynn described as “the bush,” opening a school his foundation helped fund.
Michael Badgley’s breakout season with the Los Angeles Chargers has placed high expectations on the kicker, but he’s not one to fret over a bad hair day.
“It was a very impactful experience both ways,” he said. “They were grateful for what we were doing for them, and we were grateful for just being in their presence. I don’t think I’ve ever been around a group of people that has done more with less.”
The facility, which houses kindergarten through third grade, is the first school for many of the 350 or so children attending.
In fact, the opening was delayed a day because — communicating through interpreters — Lynn had to convince the adults that their kids would be better off seeking an education than going to work.
“Little kids there … everyone’s working,” he said. “I mean, they’re all employees. With sticks, cattle-herding and goat-herding. Stuff like that. The people were worried about who was going to do all the work that needs to be done each day.
“We finally got enough buy-in to open the school. I think when they actually saw the kids come to school and the joy those kids showed from sitting in a classroom, sitting at a desk, then they just fell in love with the place.”
Shortly after he arrived in Tanzania, Lynn was told that the plan was to begin each school day at 10 a.m.
The time sounded a little late to a football lifer, one so disciplined that he re-committed himself to finishing his college degree and walked in a commencement ceremony at Nevada-Las Vegas last spring at age 49.
Lynn suggested that opening at least a couple hours sooner each day would be more appropriate. That’s when he was told the lions feed from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.
“These kids aren’t down the street or around the block,” Lynn said. “They’re walking two and three miles to get to school. Little ones. When I heard that, I said, ‘If you want to open it up at noon, I don’t care.’
“That was crazy. Just stuff like that that you don’t think about. I was scared to death half the time, just being in that environment they’re in every day. There are no street lights. When it’s dark, it’s pitch black. You always wonder what’s watching you. You’re out there with wild animals. You’re out there with some big cats. Not little cats, big cats.”
The Los Angeles Chargers experienced plenty of success in 2018. Philip Rivers, Thomas Davis Sr. and Anthony Lynn want to make sure they improve in 2019.
At one point, Lynn asked if he could have a gun and a holster — “That’s not foreign to me; I’m from Dallas,” he said, smiling — but he was assured that was unnecessary.
The logistics required to open the school included setting up transportation for the students. Where buses are used here, there it will be tractors and donkeys.
“Every day, for certain people, it’s like a life-or-death situation,” Lynn continued. “Every single day. You forget that civilization starts with water, preferably clean water.
“Things like that I’ve never thought twice about. Now, I’m watching ladies walk five miles for a five-gallon bucket of water. These people, they’re so resilient it’s incredible.”
Lynn made the trip with his wife, Stacey, and two grown children, D’Anton and Danielle.
Together, they make up the core of the Lynn Family Foundation, the name selected for what originally was going to be called the Stacey and Anthony Lynn Foundation.
As the endeavor moved closer to becoming reality, Lynn realized the charity work should include his whole family. Along with other projects, the foundation was the lead donor for the school.
“We didn’t go over there to change the culture or anything like that,” Lynn said. “We went there to add education to it. I feel like that’s what we did and will continue to do.”
His vision is to one day expand the school through grade 12. Lynn said he hopes to add an athletics program. A well to ensure clean water already is being constructed.
“This was not a one-trip deal,” he said. “I’ll be making this trip the next couple years, just to make sure the school is up and running right. We’re committed to the people there. We need to be.”
Bosa looking to bounce back
About 51 weeks ago, Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa suffered a foot injury in training camp and didn’t return until mid-November. He finished with 5.5 sacks.
“I don’t like watching film from last year,” he said Sunday. “It was not me. I didn’t have the same power, the same strength. It’s not an excuse. It is what it is … I’m in a much better place right now.”
Bosa said the soreness in his foot has gone down noticeably and that he hardly thinks about it anymore.
Running back Detrez Newsome left practice late after taking a hit from linebacker Kyle Wilson. ... Linebacker Tre’Von Johnson suffered an undisclosed injury Saturday and didn’t practice. ... The Chargers waived injured wide receiver Dylan Cantrell, a sixth-round pick last year. He spent most of last season on the practice squad. Wide receiver Fred Trevillion (hamstring) also was waived. The Chargers signed receivers Jordan Smallwood and Malachi Dupre.
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