Annette Lynch

Former Senior Manager, Coaching Excellence & Sport Education, Special Olympics

National Advisory Board

In 2018, Annette Lynch became the President & CEO of AKL Connection: A human development company – Coaching others to connect their dreams with reality.

Formerly, Lynch worked for Special Olympics starting in October of 1989 through 2004 and returned full-time in June of 2008 with Special Olympics North America (SONA). Her major focus and passion is on sport education and coaching excellence with oversight of coach development (education; recruitment; retention; recognition), the train-the-trainer program, Athlete Leadership, Unified Sports®, and relationships with National Governing Bodies and sport organizations (USOC; NCAA; AAHPERD; ASEP; NFHS; NCACE … just to name a few). In addition, Lynch is SONA liaison to the World Games, Coach Development Resource Team, Global Unified Sports Advisory Group, Global Basketball Resource Committee, USA National Bowling Tournament, the Penn Relays and the Positive Coaching Alliance Advisory Group. Currently and under her oversight, three courses have been developed and are online: Principles of Coaching for Special Olympics (West Virginia University Extended Learning (now as instructor); Coaching Special Olympics Athletes (ASEP); Coaching Unified Sports (NFHS).

Before her current tenure with SONA, Lynch served as director of education and membership services with the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA) 2004-2008. At NACWAA, she oversaw not only education and professional development for the association and its members through three Institutes and its National Convention, but also the management of the membership campaigns and database. In addition, she contributed to the Weekly Update, Annual Report, strategic planning and Board meeting preparations. Lynch was able to assume this position because of the experience gained from a total of 15 years with Special Olympics Maryland and Special Olympics, Inc. and her previous 22 years of sports education, teaching and coaching at the junior high, high school, collegiate and professional levels.

As vice president of sports development and education with Special Olympics Maryland from 2000-2004, Lynch administered the development of sports programming, which included creating and managing sport-specific development teams, coaching education, Unified Sports®, competition, volunteers, and families plus the train-the-trainer program. She also managed four staff members: director of competition, director of coach education, director of volunteer management and families’ coordinator. These skills came as a direct result of her experience in sport and in Special Olympics.

Early in her career at Special Olympics International, Lynch managed the train-the-trainer program (training people and developing materials), which assisted in the training and education of Special Olympics coaches and officials, worldwide. These resources and materials included the development of the Special Olympics Global Coach Education System (approved by the SOI Board of Directors in December of 1999), Sport-specific Program Guides, Sport-specific Skills and Tactics Courses Instructor Guides, the Principles of Coaching Course and Instructor Course, Officials Course and Instructor Guide, Unified Sports® Course and Games Management Training Course and Instructor Course. In addition, she oversaw training school applications, coaches’ and officials’ certifications, and needs’ assessment requests from the Accredited Programs. With the latter, she worked with individual Special Olympics Accredited Programs, regional advisors, and regional sport managers in putting together plans whereby those educational requests and materials were fulfilled.

Concerning her previous positions, Lynch joined Special Olympics, Inc. in 1989 as basketball director, and in 1992 she became coaches’ education director for team sports and the editor of the Coaches Quarterly (1993-1995). In 1996, she became senior sports training manager; in June of 1997, director of sports training and education and in January 1998, the director of coach education. 1 September 2000, Lynch accepted the position as vice president of sports development and education with Special Olympics Maryland. She joined a dedicated staff in a very progressive program that valued social inclusion and improving the quality of services to Special Olympics athletes.

Born in Sterling, Illinois, with formative education also in Illinois, Lynch received a Bachelor’s of Science degree at Illinois State University. There she majored in physical education, minored in psychology, and competed in basketball, field hockey, golf, track and field, and volleyball. After graduation, she played on the USA Women’s Basketball Team, which was followed by teaching and coaching in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Virginia. While in Pennsylvania and at Lehigh University, she acquired her Master’s degree in education with an emphasis on human development (counseling). Additional honors include: induction into the Illinois State University and Sterling High School Athletics Halls of Fame. Lynch has extensive experience in coaching at nearly every level: junior high (Indian Valley and Easton, PA), high school (North Kansas City, MO, and Easton, PA), NCAA Division II (Lehigh University then), NCAA Division I (Northwestern University and University of Rhode Island), and Special Olympics (1990-1999; since 2008).

In her spare time, Lynch enjoys playing golf, aerobic activities, writing poetry and listening to jazz and New Age music.