Daily Collegian (2023)
Daily Collegian (2023)
Kayla Wong

‘I just know I’m running for more than myself out there;’ Fatherhood sparks record-breaking season

UMass football’s star running back Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams’ motivation came in the form of his baby daughter

Jan. 17, 2023, at 4:23 a.m. The moment that Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams’ life changed forever.

AvaRose Tomara Adams was born, coming into the world at seven pounds and seven ounces.

Lynch-Adams was right there to greet her and welcome her into the world. The moment of seeing her in his girlfriend Alyssa Deslandes’ arms for the first time really showed him how much his life was about to change.

“When I saw [Alyssa and AvaRose] both laying there, that’s when it really hit me, like oh snap, this is real,” Lynch-Adams said

The miracle of childbirth was mesmerizing to Lynch-Adams, who was shocked by the realization that his baby was a part of him. The effort by Alyssa to make the miracle happen also did not go unnoticed.

“In the delivery room, I could just tell there was an overabundance of joy that just went over [Lynch-Adams] face,” Alyssa said. “He just kept saying over and over, ‘You’re so amazing, this is crazy, you’re amazing,’ … all kinds of stuff like that.”

As a young man in his early 20s, this new challenge of raising a child was about to put an entirely new spin on how Lynch-Adams valued life.

The biggest change that needed to happen was to get Alyssa up to Massachusetts. The couple had both grown up in Ohio and had been forced into doing things long distance, traveling back and forth to each other before finally coming together to take care of their daughter.

The pair met back in high school at track meets between Lynch-Adams’ Warren G. Harding High School and Alyssa’s Austintown Fitch High School. They’ve been together ever since and now were finally able to move in together and begin their family.

Their connection was strong from the start, with Alyssa even rooting for Lynch-Adams when he was on the football field scoring touchdowns against her high school.

The dynamic of watching Lynch-Adams on the football field has changed immensely since those high school days. She now had a partner to root with.

Daily Collegian (2023) (Mike Maynard)

“[AvaRose is always] cheering when I’m cheering and clapping when I’m clapping and screaming when I’m screaming,” Alyssa said. “So it definitely gives a different feel when I’m watching the games because it’s our family now. Even if [Lynch-Adams] is on the phone or I’m in the stands, you could just feel like we’re still like all together.”

Things have changed a lot outside of the stadium as well, with the young family all learning more about each other every day. Lynch-Adams worked hard to ensure that his family could be with him in a new environment. He wanted to be around his daughter as much as possible.

“We just had to make adjustments and realize now we’ve really got to grow up and now it’s not all about us,” Alyssa said. “It’s about our daughter now. It was definitely an adjustment, but it’s going pretty good.”

Lynch-Adams is a very active father in many aspects, especially when it comes to AvaRose’s sleep schedule. Even though Alyssa sometimes doesn’t mind letting her sleep out of schedule, Lynch-Adams is punctual and will make sure that she gets tucked in and is taken care of.

There was some skepticism as to how difficult it may be to make things work considering how much was already on the plate of the redshirt junior running back. His usual schedule and freedom changed to better support his daughter on a daily basis.

“When [Lynch-Adams] had [AvaRose], I heard him say, ‘You know mom, you were right, once you had us, I used to hear you say your life was about us. My life is definitely about [AvaRose]. I’ve got to grind, I’ve got to get it,’” Lynch-Adams’ mother Katiea said.

As a student-athlete, most days for Lynch-Adams were already jam-packed. Now adding a child to take care of was really going to switch things up.

Up until this point, the main focus for Lynch-Adams had always been the game of football. Ever since he was just four years old, he’s been suiting up in the pads and putting on a show for spectators.

He was following in the footsteps of his brother Keith, who, being five years older, had some experience with the sport and taught his brother the ins and outs.

The two brothers played outside the house through the day and night, with the only breaks in play coming when Lynch-Adams came inside to complain to Katiea about not being able to beat his older brother.

“[Keith] was roughing [Lynch-Adams] up, so what I did was I bought them football gear for Christmas,” Katiea said. “That was the best thing I ever did. I never [saw] my kids inside the house [after that].”

From then on, football remained Lynch-Adams’ and Keith’s main interest growing up, no matter what the circumstances were.

“We could go to Walmart, and [the brothers] would find a football,” Katiea said. “… They would throw the football around the whole entire store.”

Keith took Lynch-Adams under his wing in multiple aspects, but especially on the field. The two would do drills with each other, constantly trying to make each other better while also using their competitiveness to attempt to win at whatever it was.

Before Lynch-Adams had an organized team to play on, he attended his brother’s practices and games, running around and getting the other kids who were too young to play to practice in their own way.

The time spent on the sidelines of his brother’s games and practices caught the attention of the other parents, who asked how old that “little kid” was. When they found out he hadn’t even turned five years old, they were astonished.

Lynch-Adams got his chances to play with the kids his brother’s age and made sure not to disappoint. His brother also made sure no one took it easy on him.

Daily Collegian (2023)

“I told everybody, ‘Y’all’ve got to hit [Lynch-Adams] like you’re going to hit me, and if not, he’s switching teams, so I can hit him,’” Keith said. “I wanted him to get better. When you’re younger, if you get to work with older people, once you play with people your age, it should be a cakewalk.”

Having his brother as a mentor and role model was crucial for Lynch-Adams, especially going through life without his father around. When he was just two years old, his father went to prison and hasn’t been physically around since.

The lack of a father figure being around forced Lynch-Adams to grow up faster than the average kid. Even though he hasn’t been around in person, Lynch-Adams still talks to his father almost every single day and has been able to gain wisdom from him. Katiea took her boys there to see him three times a year before they could go on their own.

The most frustrating aspect of Lynch-Adams’ dad not being around is that he hasn’t seen him play football. There was some speculation recently that his father might’ve been getting out soon, but instead he was given six more years. The news shocked Lynch-Adams, who had gotten his hopes up that he’d finally get to spend time with his dad.

“It just broke all of us,” Katiea said. “That really crushed [Lynch-Adams] because he was really looking forward to looking in the stands, seeing his dad in the stands for the first time. Because it was always just me, you know, and the other family, but never his dad.”

Keith filled in as a father figure when necessary to teach Lynch-Adams how to grow as a man and avoid some of the mistakes he made.

The impact of Keith’s presence on his life has been instrumental in Lynch-Adams becoming the person and player that he is today. Lynch-Adams even wears the jersey number of his brother, to pay tribute to all that he’s done to help him get to this point.

“My big brother had [the number] 15, and I just came into the offseason, and I told myself I was going to [make the change],” Lynch-Adams said. “I had to take a little bit of [Keith] and add it to me. Even though that’s my brother and I’ve got a lot of him in me, I had to have [15] on me, just had to let him know how serious I was.”

To this day, the two brothers talk on a very regular basis, sometimes multiple times a day. Even while trying to go through their own lives and look after their families, the pair rely on each other heavily for any type of advice.

With the newfound responsibility of taking care of a child, football became an even more important aspect of Lynch-Adams’ life.

“I already had a chip on my shoulder, and I already had a lot of stuff and things that I feel like are depending on me,” Lynch-Adams said. “[Now] my daughter got added to the list.”

There is a different feeling for Lynch-Adams behind every Saturday during football season now, with his daughter attending every game that she can. He makes sure to FaceTime Alyssa and talk with both her and his AvaRose before stepping on the field each game.

“They’re my babies, they’re [at the stadium] to watch me, there to see me,” Lynch-Adams said. “I always tell them, ‘I got y’all.’ That’s just how it is. I just know I’m running for more than myself out there.”

This added motivation has resulted in a breakout season for Lynch-Adams, becoming a star on the field and leading the Minutemen to a 3-9 season, their best record since 2018. The offense received a huge boost in production, scoring their most points per game since 2018 as well.

The individual stats for Lynch-Adams were exceptional, finishing with 1,157 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, with both setting new UMass program records at the FBS level. His yards total slotted him in at No. 19 and touchdowns at No. 22 in the national rankings.

Daily Collegian (2023) (Devin Lippman)

“I didn’t have those individual goals, but I definitely did expect myself to hit the ground running and have a good season,” Lynch-Adams said. “I did expect myself to come out and work because my off-season was really serious.”

UMass has only seen one other rusher eclipse over 1,000 yards in a season since its move to the FBS, coming from Eilis Merriweather who finished with 1,138. On the final play before halftime in the season finale against UConn, Lynch-Adams rushed for seven yards to take the No. 1 spot in the record books.

“I’m just happy that he’s been healthy, because that’s the piece that’s been able to allow him to showcase his talent level,” UMass head coach Don Brown said. “This year he’s been healthy and has been able to show the world what kind of running back he can be, against quality opponents as well.”

Even while breaking records all season long, the numbers were never enough for Lynch-Adams. He always felt like he and his team could be better, never satisfied with any result that didn’t end with a UMass victory.

“It feels good [having individual success], but we aren’t winning games,” Lynch-Adams said. “So it feels like I’m not doing my job.”

Throughout his career, Lynch-Adams’ feeling of never being satisfied fueled him to work as hard as he can.

“[Lynch-Adams] has long days of practices but will still come home and do push-ups and workouts in our room,” Alyssa said. “He’s just always looking for a way to just be better and better, [always asking] ‘How can I better myself?’”

This success for Lynch-Adams in 2023 didn’t come easy. It was earned, having to work through some less-than-ideal situations. None much bigger than battling past a broken ankle.

It happened soon after arriving at UMass and was the first time in his career that he’d ever not been able to play the game of football. The injury forced him into depression.

“When I got hurt and I was away from [football] so much, it really changed me and messed me up because I had never been without it,” Lynch-Adams said.

Dealing with a significant injury was a new experience for Lynch-Adams, but he leaned on the help of his father who had suffered a similar injury in his high school days. Even though he wasn’t around to physically help with the rehab process, Lynch-Adams talked through his experience with his father and gained insight into how he could deal with the obstacles he faced.

“[Lynch-Adams is] definitely a hard worker,” Alyssa said. “I feel like he’s had to work so hard for everything in his life because he hasn’t had anything handed to him. Everything he’s had to get he’s definitely had to work for. So, I feel like he’ll always have that mentality.”

Lynch-Adams initially blamed the depression and injury on UMass and was upset with his decision to transfer to the school. The school was there for him through the rehab process, though, and he has grown a love and appreciation for how they have helped him through his tough time.

“I’m just blessed to be here and have the opportunity to really like play football and do what I like to do,” Lynch-Adams said. “Because when I got hurt, UMass took care of me, got me surgery when I needed it and still gave me the opportunity to compete and get myself on the field.”

What had become basically his entire life at the time was put on hold, and it was hard for him to even watch the game as he usually would. He came up with a plan to switch to the defensive side of the ball, telling all his coaches that he wanted to play the viper position within Brown’s defense instead of running back so that he’d stop getting hurt.

“He just felt like his career was over,” Katiea said. “My mom had to stay there for like a whole month up there with him.”

The mental side of things was where Lynch-Adams really struggled with being off the field. The depression ate away at him, making him reconsider all aspects of his life to that point.

“It was really hard to see,” Alyssa said of Lynch-Adams’ time dealing with injuries. “You could just see a complete change in his spirit. Like just the way he went, day by day and everything. When he returned [to the field], I could tell he was a little nervous about it just because any little thing he’s feeling like, ‘man, I can’t be having no other issues.’”

AvaRose came at the right time, with her presence giving Lynch-Adams the kick in the butt he needed to get back on track.

“[AvaRose] kind of healed me,” Lynch-Adams said. “Anything else that was going on, she really helped me, and healed me. She helped me out through the spring. She’s been my motivation, for real. She’s my healer.”

The responsibility of having someone who is reliant on you for everything has been a welcome addition to the life of Lynch-Adams. The biggest thing for him is just consistently being present. With his father missing out on much of his life, he doesn’t want to miss any milestones or special moments with his child.

“I just make sure that I’m the best father I could ever be,” Lynch-Adams said. “I make sure I don’t miss nothing. I want to be there to see every single thing.”

Daily Collegian (2023) (Devin Lippman)

Being around for his child has been easier with the help of the staff at UMass. Whether it’s teammates, coaches or anyone in between, Lynch-Adams has had the support of those around him, who are there to assist him in taking care of his daughter if need be.

Even after long days, Lynch-Adams makes sure to come home with a smile on his face, never missing doctor’s appointments or any other time that can be spent with AvaRose.

The two get a lot of alone time together, with Alyssa working overnights most of the time. Lynch-Adams has matured through all his previous life experiences and feels comfortable ensuring that his daughter is safe and has everything she needs.

“I’m a spoiler,” Lynch-Adams said. “Anytime [AvaRose] makes a noise, or she’s crying or wants something, I stop what I’m doing and get it to her. She just gets her way with me. I’m just super catering to her.”

Lynch-Adams does take some time to enjoy himself too, playing Madden and relaxing when he gets the chance. AvaRose is right there with him, sitting on his lap screaming at the game along with him.

To this point in life, there have been some bumps in the road to go along with the good times for Lynch-Adams, but he’s never worried that things won’t work out. The next big goal for the redshirt junior running back is making his dream of going to the NFL come true. Whether it happens now or down the road, he’s motivated by his family to give it everything he’s got.

“Wherever [Lynch-Adams] wants to go, we’re with him. 100 percent,” Alyssa said. “I know he definitely has some decisions to make and isn’t really completely sure about what’s about to happen next. But if we have to move again, we’ll have to move and I’ll be there and supporting him with whatever decision he decides to make.”

On Jan. 17, 2023, at 4:23 a.m. AvaRose was born. Almost a year later, Lynch-Adams made his decision. On Dec. 1, 2023, he declared for the NFL Draft.

Mike Maynard can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @mikecmaynard.

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    Katiea LynchDec 2, 2023 at 12:18 pm

    That was simply amazing!!!! Very well said thank u sooo much for this article ❤️… made me laugh and made my cry but loved it All….I just wanna see my son make it his Dream… ??❤️??