Lynchburg Little League Team Plays For Fallen Coach
Lynchburg, VA - The Timberlake Lions little league football team is now third best in the state. They played in the Blue Ridge bowl over the weekend and won, salvaging a season that had turned tragic.
Head coach Thomas Belford was murdered, back in August; only weeks after the season began.
It was then, that coaches and players became determined to win, and dedicated ever practice, every play to their fallen friend.
Cheers and Celebration, at the Hill City league championship game. The Timberlake Lions, came out on top.
But all this success followed incredible sadness.
"He never gave up on us. He would just keep working on that play till we got it right" said player KJ Ruhland.
"It was really hard. He meant a lot to my son, as well as all the other boys on the team" said his Mother, Lena.
Five year coach Thomas Belford was murdered, just weeks into the start of the season, which players and parents decided to dedicate to him.
Each player's helmet, adorned with a sticker commemorating the coach.
Each practice ending with a prayer "We'd say 1,2,3 Coach Thomas" said Ruhland.
11-year, Ruhland, says the win over the weekend would have made his couch proud.
"We do know that Coach Thomas is looking down at us, smiling," he said.
"It was also a closure for these boys to know that they did it for him, and came out with the win" said Lena.
"After every break, after every practice, after every game, was Coach Thomas" said Lions General Manager, Butch Droog.
Droog says the players had a new sense of determination to win, after their coach was killed.
"The passion, I mean, it's hard to say, unless you were at that championship game," he said.
A game he'd never get to see, that was won for him.
"Those guys were passionate about him. Everybody loved Coach Thomas. Every time he came out on the field, there was nothing but a smile on his face" said Droog.
Belford's alleged killer had a preliminary hearing Monday that was postponed till next month.
Belford had two sons play for the Timberlake Lions. He was 35 years old.