MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Hundreds gathered at a Myrtle Beach church to honor and celebrate the life of long time coach and educator, Rivers Lynch who passed away Sunday at the age of 72.
During Lynch’s celebration of life, there wasn’t a single empty seat inside the church.
Throughout the week, hundreds of family, friends and former players took time to thank the man they simply called “Coach” one last time.
“I don’t know of anybody that’s ever walked the halls of Myrtle Beach High School, that had more influence and meant more to the kids than Rivers Lynch,” said former Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes.
A husband, father, grandfather, coach and a friend, for over 70 years, Lynch was known as the man who was always smiling and helped mentor thousands in Myrtle Beach.
“He was just an awesome coach,” said Dever Smith, a tennis player and senior at Myrtle Beach High School.
Smith is one of hundreds of players that Lynch coached during his time at Myrtle Beach.
Lynch led the Myrtle Beach girls tennis team to eight state championships during the 1990s and later did the same with the boys program, winning three more state titles.
Smith recalled the last conversation with Coach.
“Everything he’s done for me, the way he welcomed me with open arms and gave me a chance when no one else would, that goes a long way in my eyes and I’ll always remember that moment,” said Smith.
During the service, family and friends sang, prayed and took part in communion together, reflecting on the life, character and legacy Lynch left behind.
“Folks that weren’t even on the tennis team or his basketball teams said Coach always had a word of encouragement and lifted us up and supported us,” said Rev. Shay Guillard.
On Tuesday, just two days after Lynch’s passing, the Seahawks’ boys tennis team made their way right back to the tennis courts for the first time without the man who lead the Seahawks tennis program to eleven state championships.
The team honored Lynch by dominating Hilton Head Island at home to advance to the third round of the class 4A playoffs.
“It was really big. It definitely gave us a lot more pleasure and acceptance of what’s going on and it was very pleasing to win that match for him,” said Smith.
While Tuesday’s game was very emotional, the team is focused on bringing home that 12th state championship to Myrtle Beach for the legendary coach.
“He is going to be greatly missed. It’s a very sad moment for our city and for our public school system. His name will live on forever in the halls of Myrtle Beach High School,” said Rhodes.