The first head coach in program history, Danielle Lynch enters her eighth season at the helm of Penn State Harrisburg men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track & field in 2020-21. The 2019 Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Women’s Indoor Coach of the Year has also served as the head coach of the cross country program since 2013.
In the spring of 2019, Lynch helped thrower Cameron Yon reach the pinnacle of college athletics when he won the NCAA Division III Outdoor National Championship in the Discus Throw. Yon is the first student-athlete in school history to win a national title, while Lynch is the first coach at Penn State Harrisburg to achieve the feat.
Under Lynch’s leadership, four men’s and women’s track & field athletes have combined for six USTFCCCA All-America honors. Her athletes have racked up 19 NCAA national qualifications, two regional athlete of the year awards, 42 all-region honors, 25 conference championships, 43 all-conference honors and nine conference major awards since the 2015-16 season.
During the 2019-20 campaign, jumper Alex White was named the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Indoor Outstanding Field Athlete of the Year after winning a conference championship in the long jump and earning bronze in the high jump. He added first-team all-conference honors in the long jump and all-conference third-team recognition in the high jump.
The 2019 outdoor season saw Yon win the national title in the discus throw and secure all-America honors for the third time in his career. Rae Rae Taylor earned all-America honors thanks to her seventh-place finish in the heptathlon at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, while Jalil Clayton (400m hurdles, 110m hurdles), Sarah Lehman (triple jump) and Alex White (long jump) also qualified for the outdoor national championships. Yon was named the USTFCCCA Men’s Outdoor Regional Athlete of the Year, he and Clayton earned CAC Men’s Outdoor Co-Athlete of the Year honors and Dominick Hogans was tabbed the CAC Men’s Outdoor Rookie of the Year. All six athletes earned USTFCCCA All-Region recognition as well.
The 2018-19 indoor campaign saw Lynch earn CAC Women’s Indoor Coach of the Year honors. Taylor (pentathlon) and Clayton (60m hurdles) were NCAA Indoor Championship qualifiers, while Taylor was named the CAC Women’s Indoor Athlete of the Year and Clayton was voted the CAC Men’s Indoor Athlete of the Year. The men's team’s third-place overall finish was the best in program history, while the women scored more points as a team than ever before at the indoor championship event. Six athletes in Clayton, Taylor, Yon, Lehman, White and Aiyala McPhee also secured all-region recognition.
During the 2018 outdoor slate, Lehman became the third athlete to earn all-America accolades when she finished fifth in the triple jump at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Yon also picked up his second career all-America honor when he finished seventh in the discus throw. The pair was joined by Clayton (110m hurdles, 400m hurdles), Taylor (heptathlon) and White (long jump) as qualifiers for the national outdoor event. Thanks to her efforts, Lehman was named the USTFCCCA Women’s Outdoor Regional Athlete of the Year after picking up CAC Women’s Outdoor Rookie of the Year honors. She joined Yon, Clayton, Taylor and White as all-region honorees.
The 2017-18 indoor campaign ended with hurdler Ashley Williams finishing seventh in the 60m hurdles at the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships en route to earning all-America recognition. She became Penn State Harrisburg’s first indoor athlete and the first women’s athlete from any sport to secure the prestigious honor. Lehman also burst onto the scene, impressing in the jump events all season before being named the CAC Women's Indoor Rookie of the Year.
History was made in the spring of 2016 when under Lynch’s tutelage, Yon finished third in the discus throw at the NCAA Outdoor Championship event to become the first student-athlete in school history to earn all-America honors of any kind.
Lynch joined Penn State Harrisburg as the men’s and women’s cross country head coach in the fall of 2013 before starting the track & field program from scratch, taking the program from club team to contender on the national level in less than a decade. She took over at Penn State Harrisburg following an eight-year stint as an assistant at Bucknell where she coached the sprinters, middle distance runners and hurdlers. She coached over 30 Patriot League champions and 20 of her runners hold school records at Bucknell. Several of her student-athletes were also NCAA Regional and Junior National Qualifiers. Prior to her time at Bucknell, Lynch spent two years as an assistant at West Point. She coached the sprinters and hurdlers, helping the men’s team win a pair of Patriot League outdoor championships, as well as an IC4A outdoor title.
A hurdling standout and graduate of Rutgers, Lynch competed in the sprints, hurdles and multi events and was named co-captain and MVP of the Scarlet Knights women’s team her senior year. She clocked a 400m hurdle time of 58.28 and competed at the NCAA Championships, USATF National Championships and the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials.
In addition to her coaching role, Lynch also serves as Penn State Harrisburg’s Senior Woman Administrator, Student-Athlete Welfare Coordinator, the athletic department’s Title IX representative, and she sits on several university committees, including the Senior Athletic Leadership Committee, the Development Committee for Athletics, SAF (Student Activity Fee), Title IX Self Study, and the WEcAREFoodPantry. She is a charter member of the Alliance for Women’s Coaches, an NCAA Women’s Coaching Academy Graduate, a Women Leaders in College Sports member, and a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated. Lynch is the Chair of the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Senior Woman Administrators and the Vice-Chair of the NEAC Cross Country Coaches group.
After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Anthropology from Rutgers in 2003, Lynch earned her Masters of Science in Education from Bucknell in 2010 and is a licensed teacher. Lynch is a Doctoral Candidate in the Lifelong Learning in Adult Education program at Penn State University and has a research focus on the lived experiences of Black male professional athletes in light of the ongoing social justice movements. Lynch is an NCAA and GreenDot bystander intervention facilitator and a ONETEAM LGBTQ faciliator. Lynch has a passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion and was recently featured on an episode of CNN's Facebook news show "Go There," during which she and her husband addressed the challenges of raising Black children in today's America.
She currently resides in Harrisburg, Pa. with her husband, Tony, her daughter, Olivia, and son, Anthony.