John Edward Cahill III occasionally glanced at a spot at the Myrtle Beach Tennis Center where his coach would observe the action.
“That’s where he’d stand,” the Myrtle Beach High School senior said. “Not seeing him there was tough.”
His grandfather, MBHS boys tennis coach Rivers Lynch, passed away Sunday, two days before Myrtle Beach routed Hilton Head Island 6-0 in the Class 4A SCHSL playoffs. Lynch was 72 years old.
“We all came out here on a mission, just to make him proud of us,” said Cahill’s brother Rivers, a freshman on the team. “He’d be proud no matter if we won or lost.”
His sibling agreed.
“He’s just proud of the type of men we’ve become,” said John Edward Cahill, who would call his grandfather “Coach."
“He left [behind] a good legacy."
After Tuesday’s win, the two students’ father, Myrtle Beach High School Athletics Director John Cahill, read a message to the team signed by their opponents that expressed condolences.
Tuesday’s matchup wasn’t without a few tears shed as dozens turned out to support the Seahawks, cheering emphatically for the team. Family members of Lynch, including the rest of his 12 grandchildren, were among those who came to the tennis center Tuesday.
“You can look around. You can see the turnout here at a tennis match,” said Myrtle Beach High School Principal Zach McQuigg. “I think you can kind of get an idea of the impact he had on not just our school but our community in general.”
Among those in attendance was Leesa Rawls, a teacher at the high school who was one of Lynch’s co-workers.
“Always greeted me with a hug and a smile no matter where I was,” she said.
Jeremy Finger has begun serving as an interim head coach. He was an assistant coach for the squad.
“Someone says, ‘Fill his shoes.’ No way. There’s no way,” he said. “All I can do is just facilitate the message he’s been speaking for 50 years. … The boys have already put in the work and effort to be where they are right now and I’m just here to allow their hard work to shine through.”
Finger, whose son Elliott is on the team and played against Rivers Cahill growing up, described Lynch as “always smiling” and having “the biggest heart.”
“He wanted you to play well and compete and learn and improve as a player and as a person,” he said, “whether you were on his team or not.”
Members of the team praised Lynch.
“It’s weird not having him out there,” said sophomore W.J. Vaught. “The way we went out there, we played hard just like he’d want us to.”
John Edward Cahill credited his teammates.
“The day he passed away, … almost every single one of them was in my grandma’s living room,” he said. “This team is the reason that we do so well. It’s what Coach taught us how to do, is how to be a good teammate.”