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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Building a football program not unlike fostering a strong community, United Way told

Friday, March 15, 2013

Banner Graphic/ ERIC BERNSEE Checking signals Wednesday evening following the annual meeting of United Way of Putnam County are guest speaker Bill Lynch, the new DePauw University football coach, and United Way Executive Director Jennifer Edwards. [Order this photo]
Whether you're building a football program or tackling a sense of community, the process can be quite similar, United Way of Putnam County officials heard Wednesday night.

DePauw University football coach Bill Lynch, back in Greencastle for a second tenure in leading the Tiger football program, was the guest speaker for the annual dinner meeting at the Dixie Chopper Business Center.

Lynch shared insights into how he plans to rebuild the program he led for one season in 2004 before moving on to Indiana University to coach first the Hoosier offense and later the IU team itself.

Lynch, the last coach to get IU to a bowl game and the first coach to do so in 14 years, said he approaches his football team with three "non-negotiable goals."

First, he said, is earning a DePauw University degree. Second, he added, is representing the university with pride and integrity.

And third is winning the conference championship, an accomplishment from which other opportunities (perhaps even a shot at a national title) can often evolve.

"By working together," Lynch said, "you learn what community is all about. And that's what United Way is really all about."

Lynch stresses to his players that football, after all, "is just a byproduct of a DePauw education."

He told the audience of 115 Wednesday night that Butler University basketball coach Brad Stevens, a DePauw product, likes to tell his recruits their college selection "isn't a four-year decision, it's a 50-year decision."

In other words, that choice impacts their future immensely.

"The memory of games may fade," the 58-year-old Lynch said, "but the relationships you make and the people you meet never go away."

Over spring break, Lynch and wife Linda expect to move back into the Heritage Lake home they purchased when he took over the DePauw job the first time in 2004.

"We're thrilled to be here, and that's our last move," he told the United Way group, adding that it will be the couple's 17th move in 36 years of marriage.

Almost all those moves (except for Northern Illinois and a pro job in Orlando) have come within the state of Indiana.

"It's like the old license plates we had said, 'Wander Indiana,'" Lynch laughed. "Linda and I have wandered Indiana."

In fact, DePauw isn't the only multiple-time stop on his coaching and administrative resume. Lynch has made two stops at Ball State, served two tenures in Bloomington at IU and now coached twice at DePauw, along with three different tours of duty at Butler.

"The coaching business is a little bit crazy," he offered, adding for effect perhaps that "having a football coach come and talk during March Madness is a real thrill."

Before finishing his remarks, Lynch offered the services of "70 able-bodied young men" under his supervision for community service efforts this spring, noting he'll have 100 in tow by fall.

"We have a group of student athletes that can help your organization wherever they can," he said. "College students are flexible and can give of their time and talents."

Incoming United Way President Dave Bohmer, who succeeds Tom Graffis in the role, introduced Lynch and also focused on the dollars and cents of a United Way campaign that is coming to an end shy of its $200,000 goal.

Bohmer noted that last year a goal of $185,000 was exceeded by $7,000, which helped lead to the ambitious $200,000 goal for this year.

Currently the campaign has brought in $173,00, though both Bohmer and United Way Executive Director Jennifer Edwards are confident that figure will go up in the days to come.

"We're not alone in terms of running short at this point," Bohmer said, pointing to similar situations in surrounding counties. "While I don't think we'll make $200,000, I might still be pleasantly surprised."

However, he also pointed out that the organization has cut its expenses by $20,000 in the last year. So that while the campaign is $18,000 or $19,000 short of last year's figures, "net-net we're ahead of the game," Bohmer said.

When the $20,000 in cuts is taken into consideration, the campaign is ahead of last year, and he expects the total to end up more than last year at some point.

"This is not an end at this point," Bohmer cautioned, "it's a progress report."

Huddling up for a little pregame chatter before the annual dinner meeting of the United Way of Putnam County Wednesday night at the Dixie Chopper Business Center are DePauw University football coaching legend Nick Mourouzis (center), flanked by once-and-future/current DePauw coach Bill Lynch (left) and United Way board member Murray Pride. [Order this photo]
Edwards agreed, calling it "definitely a year of transition for the United Way of Putnam County."

The annual dinner was Edwards' first day on the job in 2012, and in a year she has sought to change the public perception of the organization as merely a "fundraising body."

"If we want to see change in our community," she noted, "we need to be that change.

"We know we are much more than fundraisers. We're creating change."

United Way of Putnam County, Edwards reported, served more than 27,000 individuals last year through its dozen partner agencies.

The 12 agencies supported by United Way funds are Putnam County Family Support Services, Putnam County Youth Development Commission, Putnam County Chaplaincy Association, Putnam County Comprehensive Services, Putnam County Council on Aging and Aged, Johnson Nichols Health Clinic, Mental Health America in Putnam County, American Red Cross Putnam County Unit, Hope Haven Horse Farm, Reading Improvement Center, Summer Enrichment Program and YMCA of Clay County.

Joining President Bohmer as United Way officers for 2013 are Cathy Tipton, vice president; Kerry Ames, secretary, and Lisa Clark, treasurer. Tipton will lead the next campaign, Bohmer said.

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