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Virginia Football finds support and solidarity from ACC, wider sports community

Sports organizations and individuals across the nation have united in grief and sympathy in the face of tragedy

<p>The ACC has provided specially designed helmet decals to be worn by all of its football teams this weekend as they compete.</p>

The ACC has provided specially designed helmet decals to be worn by all of its football teams this weekend as they compete.

The ACC announced Wednesday how it will demonstrate solidarity with Virginia’s football program in the wake of Sunday night’s shooting that claimed the lives of Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler. All three were members of the Virginia football team. Two other students, including junior running back Mike Hollins and Marlee Morgan, were also injured in the shooting.

“As I previously shared, the ACC is a family, and we are all heartbroken,” ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends, teammates, and classmates of Devin, Lavel and D’Sean and to the entire University of Virginia community.”

The ACC has provided specially designed helmet decals to be worn by all of its football teams this weekend as they compete. All ACC home football games this weekend will observe a moment of silence before kickoff. Other ACC athletic competitions throughout the week have also observed moments of silence. Additionally, the ACC has distributed graphics containing the phrase “U.Va. Strong” for its members to use on social media, video boards or on-field displays.

Throughout the conference, various coaches voiced their support and sympathy for Virginia’s football program and Coach Tony Elliott. Among them were Syracuse offensive coordinator Robert Anae and quarterbacks coach Jason Beck who served in the same roles at Virginia from 2016 to 2021. 

“I have profound sorrow for the families and have had unspeakable grief since I found out,” Anae said. “I have unbelievable love for the outstanding young men that they were.”

Virginia Tech Coach Brent Pry also offered his condolences to the program.

“This is a reminder to me and all of us that life is precious and a challenge to love each other more,” Pry said. “Football is something that’s important to all of us. It creates a brotherhood. We are family and when one of us is hurting, we all hurt.”

Pry recalled the 2007 shooting that occurred at Virginia Tech and the ways that Virginia extended its support in the face of that tragedy.

“U.Va. was here for us in 2007 and we are here for them now,” Pry said. “It’s bigger than football.”

Virginia Tech’s men’s and women’s basketball teams wore special warm-up shirts before their games this week embellished with the slogan “Hokies for Hoos”. 

Former head coach Bronco Mendenhall traveled to Charlottesville this week to mourn the loss of three individuals he coached or recruited in his stint as Virginia’s head coach. Mendenhall looks to show support for their families and find comfort in those that he surrounded himself with in his time with Virginia.

“I just feel like ultimately I need to see them,” Mendenhall said. “I hope just by hugging — I don’t even know what will happen of value other than just connecting and just letting them know that their sons were loved.”

Reactions to Sunday’s shooting extended beyond the ACC and NCAA and into the wider sports world. Virginia football alumni such as Thomas Jones and Chris Long took to social media to express their sympathies, as well as current professional athletes including Lebron James and Patrick Mahomes.

Virginia’s Athletics announced Wednesday that the scheduled football game against Coastal Carolina this Saturday has been canceled. Instead, a memorial service will be held in John Paul Jones Arena at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, with gates opening at 2 p.m. Overflow seating will be available at Klöckner Stadium and Old Cabell Hall. The memorial will be broadcast on the ACC Network and at online, while a live stream will be broadcast at Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church. 

A decision has not yet been made about Virginia football’s final matchup against Virginia Tech, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 26.