Lake Norman & Mooresville

Patriots hope coach's experience pays off

Doug London wanted one last challenge after 34 years of teaching.

Davidson Day wanted a new English teacher.

It quickly became apparent the two made a perfect match.

When London accepted a job as Davidson Day's new high school English teacher in May, he also took over the varsity boys' soccer coaching job.

London spent the last 14 years teaching and coaching soccer at the Alexander Dawson School in Boulder, Colo. He experienced more than a decade of success at Dawson, earning the Boulder County "Teacher of the Year" award in 2008 and '09.

Closing the Boulder chapter of his life has been a hectic experience for London. He has flown back and forth from Charlotte to Boulder all summer, looking for a house and packing up his family's belongings.

"We have to sell the house in Boulder and pack up 15 years worth of stuff," said a weary London.

London said he loved teaching at Dawson, but thought the time felt right for one more move. He hopes this one will be the last.

He has lived all over the country due to his life-long love affair with soccer. He spent four years on the varsity soccer team at Kenyon College in Ohio.

London's career began to take shape at Kenyon. He entered as a freshman with dreams of going to medical school, but at the end of four years he knew he wanted to be a teacher.

"At Kenyon I came across teachers that were just so impressive that I decided that it was something I thought I'd take a shot at," said London. "I decided that medicine probably wasn't for me."

London's first teaching job came at the Bullis School in Potomac, Md. They also happened to need a boys' soccer coach, so London took a chance and did that too.

He wouldn't leave for 20 years.

London said his coaching philosophy is to build a sense of team unity so the kids can form strong relationships with each other. Kids that want to play with each other are more successful, he said.

"I think they learn that they are good at solving the problems that other teams present and get better at it as the season goes on," he said.

London said the last 14 years of Dawson have been great, but something about North Carolina appealed to him. Soccer receives more attention in North Carolina than it does in Colorado, he said.

"I think soccer here is considered to be one of the premiere sports," he said. "In Colorado, it follows football and volleyball and a couple of other sports."

London takes over for Josh Wagner, who stays on at Davidson Day as the assistant varsity coach, as the Patriot program comes off of last year's 8-11 season.Davidson Day spokesman John Tobias insisted the school wasn't looking for Wagner's replacement. He said the opportunity to get a coach of London's caliber couldn't be passed up.

"We were looking for an English teacher and we saw the credentials Doug had," said Tobias. "You don't come across too many soccer coaches with the type of credentials that he has."

In addition to being named the the D.C. Metro Area Coach of the Year in 1993 by The Washington Post and the 3A Coach of the Year in 2007 by The Denver Post, London led the Bullis boys' program to Top 10 national rankings twice.

London said he wanted something different and challenging when taking the Patriot job. There were only a few jobs he would have considered taking, but Davidson Day's seemed to fit the bill.

"I see my role as trying to help build a program that's already's got some good momentum going," said London. "As a school it's also growing and it's got some great momentum going.

"It's a school that seems to be ambitious in some areas that I have a keen interest in. So I'm really excited about being here."