Name: Mike Groves
Position as of Feb. 2017:
Interim head football coach, Briar Woods High School
Previous positions through Jan. 2017:
President, Ashburn Youth Football League; Assistant Football Coach, Briar Woods High School
1986-1995 – DC Metropolitan Police Boys & Girls Club
1996-1998 – Bishop O’Connell Assistant Coach
1998-2016 – Ashburn Youth Football League (AYFL) 3rd/4th-grade / 5th/6th-grade head coach
2005-2012 – AYFL Member, Board of Directors
2009-2016 – Briar Woods HS Football, Varsity Assistant Coach
2010-2015 – Briar Woods HS Football, Head Freshman Coach
2016 – Briar Woods Football, Head JV Coach
2012-2016 – Ashburn Youth Football League President
2017 – Briar Woods Interim Head Varsity Coach
Ashburn, Va. (February 5, 2017) — They say you never want to be the guy replacing the legend, you want to be the guy replacing the guy replacing the legend.
Mike Groves is the guy replacing the legend. He hopes the guy replacing him is…the same legend.
At Briar Woods High School, head football coach Charlie Pierce has for forever been the First Falcon, cultivating fertile Ashburn talent into a three- and very nearly a four-time defending state champion. No other Loudoun school can claim a state-level football three-peat. Coach Pierce and Company claimed it by Year 7.
Just as he’d done previously as head coach at Park View High School in Sterling (almost winning a state title there), Pierce has shepherded dozens of young men into the college ranks as football players and/or students, or into the professional world otherwise. His own son Zach was coached and educated through Pierce’s system. Other former Falcons – if there is such an animal – dot rosters of major college programs seen on TV.
The accomplished head coach and educator has been showered with Coach Of the Year selections at the district, region and state level and once by the Washington Redskins – but also recognized as a biology teacher, with national nominations and Park View’s 2004 Teacher Of the Year honor.
Pierce announced a leave of absence from his football duties for the 2017 season, in news first broken by Viva Loudoun.
Groves was announced as Pierce’s titular replacement with the interim tag, with which he is perfectly fine. The second-ever head coach in the Falcons’ football history talked with Viva Loudoun after Pierce’s temporary leave became known.
“I’d like to clear it up right away. Charlie Pierce and I have been very good friends, best friends, since, oh I guess, 1979. We played together at Shepherd College*,” said Groves. “It’s incumbent upon him to take care of some issues [for his family]. Charlie is the oldest of three brothers, and he feels a sense of responsibility which I think we can all appreciate. Charlie would like to focus on those issues at hand, and us being friends, I accepted the responsibility to run the program this year – with the hope that he can get those situations under hand, and next year if he is ready, willing and able, he would step back into his rightful place as the head coach of this program. I just want to make that clear.”
Groves got into coaching as something of a respite from his day job as an undercover narcotics officer in inner-city D.C. He became a football coach in, then director of, the Metropolitan Police’s Boys & Girls Club.
He eventually relocated to Loudoun and unassumingly got involved in the Ashburn Youth Football League (AYFL), coaching elementary schoolers on football basics. Even when he moved to the organization’s board, or hooked on Pierce’s staff, he kept coaching the littler guys.
He became AYFL’s president at the same time he was, as a head coach, winning 94 percent of the freshman Falcons’ contests in the six years he guided those rookies, “building the foundation of your program, giving those kids their first introduction to high school football.”
Groves spoke about his “unique opportunity” to coach the same kids from elementary through high school. The kids have gotten to know him and his “firm but fair” style, and he’s gotten to know the kids’ parents.
“Some of them I’ve got now at varsity, I’ve coached six, seven times in their lives,” Groves said. “Is that a unique thing? I can say I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of it happening. Youth coaches normally stay in youth and high school coaches normally stay in high school. But I’ve been carrying two hats.”
For as long as he’s heading Briar Woods’ program, one of those hats is getting hung up.
“Effective this week, I’ve resigned from the AYFL as president,” Groves declared. “I won’t have the time, but also when you’re dealing with an organization’s funds, there must be a clear delineation. And quite honestly, I won’t have the time to do both.”
While Groves’ coaching career heretofore, from learning third graders to promising sophomores, has been focused on developing players and teams for varsity success, he’s keenly aware of what the results should be.
“Obviously wins and losses are what you’re gauged by. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be keeping score,” he quipped. “Our objective is to win, and this school has been pretty successful at that, and I’ve been pretty successful at that whether in youth or high school. We’re going to give it our best.
“But the experience surpasses wins and losses. It’s the fundamental teaching of these young men about the ways of life, since football parallels life in a lot of ways. There are the extreme highs and the extreme lows, there’s working together as a team for one purpose.”
* Now Shepherd University.
VivaLoudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Jason S Rufner
for Viva Loudoun Media Communications