A road game for practice

Published 10:01 pm Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My parents went to Virginia Tech and William and Mary, so very little in my nature, at least in the trivial world of sports, leads me to an interest in the Virginia Cavaliers.

The Cavalier football program, under second-year head coach Mike London, is taking two of its spring practices on the road for the second straight offseason. Virginia will bring a practice to Hampton’s Darling Stadium on Saturday, Mar. 19. A week later, the Cavaliers will be in Alexandria.

Fans, whether in Cavalier orange and blue or otherwise, are invited, and admission is free.

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All college gridiron squads have a spring game, an intra-squad scrimmage, that’s open to the public one Saturday in March or April. On one hand, I find ESPN televising four hours worth of every SEC team’s spring game to be overkill, but okay, I just don’t watch. Obviously many football fans do.

While I’m fairly sure Coach London and the ‘Hoos won’t be going over their offensive playbook for facing the Hokies in front of the public at Darling Stadium, it’ll be a real, serious practice. Each college squad gets a restricted number of spring practices, then that’s it until summer, so a coach won’t waste one to simply put on a show, even if it’s with fans in the stands.

I don’t know if other ACC or big-time college football programs are doing this. The first I heard of such a thing was last spring when Virginia held an open practice at Old Dominion’s Foreman Field.

Whether he should get the patent on the idea or not, props to London for creating another way to connect with Cavalier supporters and, more important to Virginia’s record and his job security, find a way to make up ground in Virginia Tech’s usual recruiting cradle.

Everyone will get into Darling Stadium free from noon to 3:30 p.m. It’ll be doubly free for any high school players, coaches or parents of players from football-rich Hampton Roads.

The afternoon is meant to be part-pep rally, with T-shirts given away, an autograph session after the practice and lots of prizes raffled off.

Season tickets, a TV, helmets, jerseys and other ‘Hoos paraphernalia will be in the raffle. Would I be eligible for the season tickets if I’m technically going to see William and Mary (Sept. 3) and Virginia Tech (Nov. 26) in Charlottesville this fall?

Virginia’s also holding a canned food drive with the donations going to the Food Bank of the Virginia Peninsula.

Of course, big Cavalier fans should turn out in big numbers for such an event, especially months away from seeing live football again. I’d think any football fan though would jump at the chance to get a small peek at how a major college football team goes about a little of its business.