MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Senior John Ed Cahill has one lasting memory of his grandfather Rivers Lynch, longtime Myrtle Beach High School educator and tennis coach, who passed away unexpectedly on April 28 at the age of 72.
“John Ed, I’m sorry I couldn’t be there with you, but I’ll be at your match in spirit. Go out there and play with heart, use your head, and I love you,” Lynch told his grandson in a voicemail during the summer of 2018.
Cahill said the voicemail serves as a simple reminder of Lynch’s presence in his life and his passion on the tennis court.
“I’ve played that message before every match and it gives me a type of motivation I’ve never had before," Cahill said Monday as he stood on an empty court following a 6-0 sweep over Beaufort to win the 2019 SCHSL Lowerstate Boys tennis title.
The Seahawks have used the motivation of loss to fuel their championship run, which concludes Saturday at 10 a.m. vs. AC Flora at the Cayce Tennis Center in Columbia.
“We’ve worked so hard," said Myrtle Beach High School senior Joshua Wallen. "I’ve been on the team since 7th grade, this is our first time making it past the third round and now were going to the state championship.”
Adversity has undoubtedly shaped this team’s journey, with the team playing it’s third round playoff match just hours after many attended Lynch’s funeral.
“I get a phone call from one of my coaches and he said coach passed away and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my entire life,” Wallen said.
“Frankly, the funeral was Thursday and we played one of our toughest opponents ever that afternoon," interim coach Jeremy Finger said.
Through all the ups and downs, the Seahawks said they hope to honor their late coach by bringing the state championship back to the beach.
“Behind closed doors, as a team, we’ve laughed together, cried together, we’ve celebrated together, we’ve mourned together,” Cahill continued.
Family, friends, current and former players lauded compliments on a man they called a “beacon of light in the community.”
“Coach is really still with us," Finger said. "He’s in our minds, in our hearts, in our prayers, and we just want to play hard, fight hard, lay with honor and integrity and these boys are going to go up there and do the same thing.”