Trip to state evokes past memories and present joy for Bishop Luers coach Kyle Lindsay

Bishop Luers coach Kyle Lindsay holds up the semi state trophy on November 20 after the Knights beat Pioneer to advance to the Class 2A state finals. (Photo by John Felts)

As a senior at the University of Dayton in 2007, coaching football at his alma mater, let alone teaching there, was the last thing on the mind of Kyle Lindsay.

While he was getting his degree in education, his attention was on his final collegiate baseball season. Instead of worrying about student teaching, Lindsay was more concerned about making an impact on the pitcher’s mound.

“I wanted to dedicate my last year to baseball, and um…I really sucked,” Lindsay said. “I was a college senior who lost a lot of his athletic ability, but wasn’t ready to admit it yet.

“I didn’t have it any more. But I didn’t want to give up missing baseball games to be an 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. student teacher.”

Lindsay languished in the bullpen that final season with the Flyers, posting a 12.06 ERA in a little over 15 innings of action, a disappointment after a very solid junior campaign.

With baseball over and no immediate path to teaching, Lindsay returned to Fort Wayne, eventually finding his way onto the staff at Bishop Luers, coached by father Matt.

It was Matt who had coached his son throughout his career at Bishop Luers, with Kyle putting up exceptional numbers as quarterback (and punter) of the Knights and winning a state championship in 1999.

Being back with his dad, the coaching staff and the Luers community brought something out in Kyle. He got around to student teaching (at rival Bishop Dwenger, no less) and got into the building as a teacher in 2011, in the middle of four-straight state championships with the likes of Jaylon Smith, James Knapke, Kenny Mullen and so many others leading the way.

This 1999 photo shows former Bishop Luers coach Matt Lindsay with his son/then quarterback Kyle, who is now the head coach of the Knights.

So when Kyle got the job to replace Matt in 2013, many expected the winning ways of the the Knights to continue unabated.

After all, Matt won nine state titles at the helm of Bishop Luers football. And it was just going to keep rolling with son Kyle.

“Those four years had some of the most talented athletes in Bishop Luers history,” Kyle said. “There was a lot of success on the football field, on the hardwood and on the baseball diamond.

“It just wasn’t reality to be able to keep that up.”

In Kyle’s first year, Bishop Luers went winless in the regular season for the first time in program history. It won twice in the postseason to reach the sectional final, but two wins was the lowest in a season since 1978.

Immediately, there was talk casting doubt on Kyle’s coaching ability.

“I’ve always known what the expectations are being around Bishop Luers football my whole life,” Kyle said. “Frankly, there have been years in which we weren’t that talented. Luers football had struggles even in the past, but people rarely have that perspective outside of the program. They think, ‘Well, they were victorious last year, why wouldn’t they be this year?'”

One year later, Bishop Luers reached semistate, a return to form for one of the perennial powers in the state of Indiana. The Knights added sectional titles in 2017 and 2018, and a regional crown in 2018, but a three-win campaign last year saw a drop in form.

Throughout the journey, father Matt has been there. Rarely a weekend goes by following a Friday night in which father and son do not talk. Matt always has a question or two for Kyle on why he decided this or that over the course of the game. It isn’t questioning him, more of one coach picking the mind of another.

Former Bishop Luers coach Matt Lindsay (left) and current Luers coach Kyle Lindsay (right) when Kyle was the Knights’ quarterback in 1999.

“At least once a week he has something critical that I appreciate,” Kyle said. “He isn’t second guessing, and he always prefaces it by saying he isn’t being critical, he just wants to know what is going on in my brain.”

Matt also knows exactly what his son is going through. Bishop Luers is a family, and both have been part of that family for decades. People often speak of the benefits of being at a private school when it comes to football, but there are also challenges. The enrollment of the school has shrunk over the last several years, leading to issues with depth on the roster.

The school has also become more diverse, and now has more coaches in the building during the day than it has in recent memory. That has helped foster the relationships key to small-school football, where numbers aren’t limitless.

“The goal of our coaching staff is no different than what it was 20 years ago or 30 or 40 years even at Bishop Luers,” Kyle said. “You talk to people who played Bishop Luers football, they would have something positive to say about a coach.

“Young men don’t hear it enough that someone loves them, especially from adults. At Bishop Luers, you are going to be loved. The building may have changed inside, but overall what we have going on is just the same as it has always been.”

For the first time this Friday, Kyle will lead his team, HIS Bishop Luers Knights, out of the tunnel of Lucas Oil Stadium to compete for a championship, as his dad did in the early 2010s during that magical run.

From a short-sighted college senior, Kyle has emerged over the last decade-plus as the face of Bishop Luers football. He lived it and experienced it much as his roster is doing so now. He knows what it is like, and how important it is to grasp the magnitude of wearing the red and black.

“I’m not sure what I will feel (on Friday morning) taking the field,” Kyle said. “All of my thoughts and energies this week have gone to the kids’ experience.

“But in the few quiet moments this week, I have had some time to reflect. I have gotten emotional not necessarily around what this means for me or my dad, but for our seniors.

“I have had a lot more bright moments than not with Bishop Luers football. Friday will be one of those.”

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