In the heat of the NFL offseason, Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn has been in Tanzania, in East Africa, opening up a school.
Lynn, along with his wife, NBC New York news anchor Stacey Bell, helped fund a school in a rural Maasai village of Lanjani in the northern part of the country. In a phone conversation with Jenny Vrentas of SI.com from Tanzania, Lynn recently detailed his summer-break trip to Africa.
"These kids were getting pushed into the workforce as early as possible, growing up without education at all," Lynn said. "It was sad, because where do your hopes and dreams come from if you don't have that? How do you know if you like science until you take a science class? When I learned about the situation, I felt like I had to get involved."
The school will help provide education for the rural population that has seen their way of life challenged recently by hotter weather and unpredictable rains due to climate change, along with several other local obstacles. Classes are expected to start this week, per Vrentas, with about 300 boys and girls in grades K-3. Lynn hopes the school will offer children another path through education.
Lynn described to Vrentas some of the challenges the school is working through as it gets started. One example is that the school opens at 10 a.m. each day because lions feed from 6 to 9 a.m.
"These are things I never would have known if I didn't come over here," Lynn said of his trip.
Lynn said he plans to bring the lessons learned in Africa back to Los Angeles when Chargers training camp opens later this month.
"I always try to take life experiences and use them in football terms," Lynn said. "A lot of times, when you can help develop these young men into better men, they will also become better football players. It's something we will talk about: Doing more with less, and having the right attitude. When you have the grit and toughness that I have seen here in Tanzania, and you put positivity behind that, you can do whatever you want to do."
Lynn said the trip surprisingly might have left as big an impression on him as it did for the children he's helping.
"You know, you go somewhere, and you expect to help people and have an impact, and they end up having an impact on you," he said. "Their resiliency, their toughness, their attitude, their smiles. You see it and experience it, and it makes you appreciate what you really have."