MADISON – “He would be so proud.”
In the stands of Camp Randall Stadium last Thursday, four years to-the-day of her husband’s death, Janice Lyne, and the rest of the Lyne family, contemplated what he would be thinking as they watched members of the last team he ever coached take the field for the state championship game.
Royce Lyne breathed and bled Miner Red as a lifelong resident of Shullsburg. That included doing whatever he could for the schools, and especially the athletic programs. He ran the clock at basketball games, ran the chains at the high school football games, and for 17 years he coached the junior high football program.
“He touched a lot of lives, I didn’t realize how many until he passed,” Royce’s daughter, Jessica, noted. She said that he was there for every player, “whether they were athletic or not, he believed in all of them. He was always there to coach them, bring them good luck.”
For Royce’s two sons, they got to see firsthand what he tried to instill in the players.
“Its not only on the field how you act, but also off the field as well,” stated Kyle, who also said that his father did not emphasize the game over anything else. “He was a big instiller of school first, football second. Be student-athletes, and not just athletes…That’s probably the biggest lesson that was instilled in any of the athletes who came through this program.”
Travis, who also coached with his dad, said that when he joined the sidelines, he was a little more intense at first about the game, then he saw his dad coach. “He was more about the kids, that’s what it needs to be about. It’s about growing the kids and showing them where they can be today,” Travis said.
Travis said that carried to how he taught the players, not giving Xs and Os, but the fundamental basics of football. He said giving that basic understanding allows the players to have the knowledge when they went to the next level. “What he did was instrumental to Shullsburg football.”
When Kyle graduated junior high, Royce could have stopped coaching and relaxed to just watch the game. But he simply was not wired that way.
“This is what he lived for– these kids, this school, our town, this is all what its about,” Travis said.
Janice shared another story about Royce and his commitment to the players. During one season, the team was going to dress up as a group– dress shirts and ties. Royce knew one of the players just didn’t have those things.
“He said to me ‘go down to Kyle’s room and get a shirt and tie for this boy. He needs to have one, so we’re going to give him one’,” Janice remembered.
Having this team– the seniors were the last players Royce coached– meant a lot for the family to see play, on this anniversary of Royce’s passing. “Usually its a sad day, but today its a great day,” Travis said.
The rest of the family agreed that being there helped transform the day.
“It is just so overwhelming,” Janice continued.
Each of them remembered Royce noting how special this group was going to be.
“He said if there was going to be any team to go to state, it would be this one,” Jessica reflected. “He was so proud of them.”
Kyle remembered his father talking about how big, how fast, how special this group was and he knows that his dad was just going to sit back and watch wherever he was. “I bet he is up there right now, eating his popcorn, for sure, watching the game with the biggest smile on his face you can imagine.”
Scratch that, Kyle knows where his father would like to be. “He would be the first person to volunteer to do the chains.”