Why I’ll continue to root for Coach Mike London.
Mike London exudes class. He teaches his players to go to class, play with class and treat people with dignity and respect. That’s his motto. He talks the talk but walks the walk. I met Coach London when I was covering Syracuse at UVA for Homecomings back in October. Yes, homecomings as in plural. It’s a Virginia thing. AnyHOO, they were sitting at 1-4 and desperately needing a W for more reasons than one.
We went through the motions of the typical coaches meeting. We asked football questions involving the 2 deep roster, gained a little nugget about each guy and so on. I asked Coach a few questions, but the one that got him going was a simple one.
Where does your toughness come from?
His dad. His pops is a 30-year retired Vietnam vet and currently suffering from Agent Orange.
His daughter. A daughter who needed a life saving bone marrow transplant. Coach told me there was a 10,000 to 1 odd a parent could be a match. He was.
His other daughter who played basketball at UVA.
His younger brother who played football here at UVA.
Faith, family and football drive Coach London.
How about the time he was a police officer and a gun was put to his face. He stared down the barrel and the suspect pulled the trigger. It clicked. No bullet.
He said you have to remember those monumental moments in your life or those special people in your life to keep going and approach every situation with sacrifice and tenacity.
He had no choice but to turn out tough.
UVA won the game in triple OT. It’s one of those games when you arrive on campus (“grounds” if you’re a Cavalier) you get this feeling and know they’ve GOT to win this game.
I saw first hand how tough Coach London is and yeah it was just a football game. But I saw how much he believes in his guys. He calls his players “first to go in type guys” which is a phrase dating back to his cop days. London was a first to go in type of cop. He said it was partially because he was so big and ripped after getting cut by the Cowboys. He laughed out loud and said he’d be flexing while writing them a ticket. London knocked down doors and cleared rooms for his team. He’s encouraged players to do the same. He encouraged his guys to be first to go in type guys. His players love him. They really love him. I mean really, really love him. He has this player’s coach swag, but respectable firmness about him you can’t help but root for.
He thanked the good Lord in our interview that day and I’m happy to know he’s my brother in Christ. No matter what direction Coach London heads, I know the Lord will continue to lead him to do great things. He made a quick yet lasting impact on me by his strong character and presence. In my book, his success won’t ever be measured by wins or losses.