After the tragic events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, and on the University of Virginia campus last month, the season opener for the Virginia Cavaliers started with a message of support from their first guests of the season.
Minutes before kickoff, players from the William & Mary Tribe, wearing T-shirts that read “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,” faced the crowd from the sideline of Scott Stadium and locked arms, reminiscent of a team photo the Cavaliers team took just days after protesters violently took over the city, leaving one person dead.
Before the game, the Tribe released a statement about why they chose to link arms. “The expression represents our desire to make a positive statement about our shared beliefs in cultivating a society based on respect for people of all ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds and one that embraces unity, civility and loving one another despite our differences,” the statement read.
That wasn’t the only recognition of the protests, as the Cavaliers announced on Thursday that each sports team at the university, including the football team, will wear a patch on their uniforms with the words “#HOOSTogether,” a campus-wide anti-hate social media campaign, stitched on the front.
“Virginia athletics is committed to #HoosTogether and its message. We rely on it every day for our student-athletes, coaches and staff to be successful,” athletic director Craig Littlepage said in a statement Thursday.
Also before the game, the public address announcer called for a moment of silence in remembrance of Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who died when James Alex Fields allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters on a side street at an Aug. 12 white supremacist rally in downtown Charlottesville.