Cav coach in season two

Published 8:53 pm Saturday, April 16, 2011

Coaching: Virginia head coach Mike London coaches during last November’s game against Maryland in Charlottesville. London will speak at Suffolk’s Liberty Baptist Church for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Spring Sports Banquet on Saturday, April 30.

Faith and football combine for UVA’s London

Mike London’s going into his second year as the head coach of Virginia Cavalier football. With spring practices, recruiting, tons more coaching work and maybe even one day here and there to rest, it must take a special or meaningful reason for the coach to dedicate a whole day to something else.

London will spend Saturday, April 30 at Liberty Baptist Church in Suffolk meeting, speaking and energizing people for a cause that has some to do with football, but is really about something closer to his heart, even more so than what his Cavaliers do on Saturdays.

“His faith is who he is,” said Mickey Toll, longtime friend of London’s and the Hampton Roads Area Director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).

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Toll knew and worked with London when he was Virginia’s defensive line coach from 2001-04. London brought Toll with him, as the team chaplain, when he became head coach at Richmond, where London and the Spiders won the Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA) national championship, leading to UVA bringing London back to lead its program.

London will be the guest of honor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Spring Sports Banquet at Liberty Baptist Church.

London spoke at an FCA event in Virginia Beach a couple months ago.

“One of his main messages that night was about the scripture, in Proverbs,” Toll said, “that says, ‘as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’”

“As a coach, Coach London knows he’s in a unique position to help people grow, to lift people up,” Toll said. “Everyone has a choice to treat people with respect, or not, to lift each other up, or not.”

The FCA has chapters at middle schools and high schools in Suffolk, Windsor, Smithfield, Isle of Wight, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, along with Norfolk State, Old Dominion and Virginia Wesleyan.

The organization works with the young athletes. One specific example is the organization’s program to encourage and help students remain drug-free and alcohol-free.

The FCA also ministers to and guides coaches. Toll’s worked with Nansemond River football coach Tracey Parker, Lakeland’s Glenwood Ferebee and King’s Fork’s Joe Jones. All three Suffolk coaches, plus other coaches from around the area, will be part of the audience to hear London.

“We all have a desire to see kids being changed because these days, kids are being told so much about what they can’t do, a lot more than being told about what they can do,” Toll said.

Toll wants and expects athletes and coaches to stay as competitive as possible on the game field and work at their skills as much as ever on the practice field.

“Every race can be and should be run whole-heartedly, but at the same time you can play with respect and love. There’s enough hate on the streets,” Toll said.

Starting with the head coaches, who can then set the tone for everyone on their teams, is part of the FCA’s philosophy.

“It’s pretty awesome. All three guys (Parker, Ferebee and Jones) agreed when we all met together,” Toll said.

There’s a big difference in a rivalry and playing to win versus “hatred or bitter rivalry.” Coaching their kids tough, but with care and love, can be the exact same thing.

The banquet is scheduled for Saturday, April 30 at 6 p.m. Table sponsorships range from $150 for a table for six for the dinner up to $1,000 for a dinner table, one seat at the luncheon at noon, a chance to meet, greet and have a picture with London during the VIP reception starting at 5 p.m. and an autographed football.

The luncheon is limited to 12 people. The deadline for reservations is April 26. To make a reservation or for more information, call 288-4580 or email