Sister Lynn Winsor has been a member of the Xavier College Preparatory community for nearly 45 years, working with student-athletes in myriad capacities and leaving an impact along the way.
Those efforts did not escape the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s eye.
The AIA recently awarded Winsor its first Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual Champions Awards Luncheon at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
AIA Executive Director David Hines said the organization created the award with Winsor in mind.
“She is a great example of how to create a culture that’s positive,” he said. “That’s about kids doing their best, about kids giving back to their communities, about kids respecting one another. She is an example of how a school athletic director can make a difference.”
Winsor joined Xavier in 1974 as the girls golf coach. She became the school’s athletic director in 1977, working in both capacities since.
She has won numerous national, state and local awards for her efforts as both a golf coach and athletic director, including an induction into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame. She is also a candidate for the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.
As a golf coach, her team has won 35 state championships and has posted a 257–25 record in dual matches. Under Winsor’s watch, Xavier, as a whole, has won 134 state championships and been runner-ups 54 times.
During her time at Xavier, Winsor said she has felt the support of the school administration and coaches in helping her achieve her goals for the program.
“When you’re coming into work every day and you are excited about coming to work after 44 years, then you know you’re in the right job,” she said.
What makes Winsor love what she does is working with high school students. Xavier is an all-female Catholic high school and Winsor doesn’t only work with student-athletes. She is in charge of clubs and activities as well.
She said she loves seeing how high school students are still having fun in their sport, something she believes is not as prominent at the collegiate and professional levels.
Winsor said it also rewarding to see the school’s clubs have meaningful activities that benefit the community because of the impact it has on students and community members.
“Activities and athletics really work together,” she said. “I think they’re the other half of education. When you have a good program in that, in activities and athletics, then I think it will just complement the other part (academics).”
Through this mindset and focus, Winsor has seen numerous success stories in the form of school alumnae who reach the higher levels.
Some of those include Ladies Professional Golf Association golfer Cheyenne Woods, Arizona State women’s golf coach Missy Farr-Kaye and USC outside hitter Khalia Lanier.
Winsor said she is proud of what the alumnae have accomplished but she also has pride in those who haven’t made it to higher levels. She remembers them because they have helped push the ones who have made it to get there.
But that type of success in not what’s most important to Winsor. Though she says it’s important to win, she’s found high school athletes also remember the atmosphere and friendships that come.
That’s the case for 2015 Xavier graduate and sophomore at Gannon University, a Division II school in Pennsylvania, Rebecca Red Horse.
At the collegiate level, her coaches are always asking about statistics and how she is performing in golf, Red Horse said. This was different than her prep experience where Winsor was always asking about how the golfer was doing away from the course.
“I was never going to be a No. 1 player but she always wants to give people a chance because she knows it’s what they love to do,” Red Horse said. “I think the fact that she goes out of her way and takes interest in things outside of golf in our lives (showed how much she cared).”
Winsor’s efforts have left an impact on Red Horse, who said she is a more humble person because of her experiences at Xavier and with Winsor. Red Horse also said she is a more caring person because of Winsor’s example.
Winsor recently had her 75th birthday but her age hasn’t stifled her “spunky attitude,” as Red Horse called it. Still, there is no end in sight for Winsor’s time at Xavier.
“I always say there are two ways I’ll get out of here,” she said. “One is death and the other is dementia. Otherwise, I hope to hang in there as long as I can.”
Story by JOSH MARTINEZ, Cronkite News