RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Saturday coaches from high schools, colleges, and universities gathered at the foot of the Arthur Ashe Statue on Monument Avenue to stand up for the young people they coach and push for equality and a better future.
The group of coaches called themselves the 804 Coaches for Change which formed Monday following a weekend of protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
“We want to represent Richmond in the correct way,” Steven Lewis said.
Lewis is the Assistant Athletic Director at St. Christopher School and lead the event which over 100 people attended. During the event, coaches announced the schools they represented speaking with some coaches speaking about how this group’s dedication to the healing process of racial unrest in the commonwealth and across the nation.
“This is a team bigger than any other team that I’ve ever been apart of,” Armstrong basketball coach Darryl Watts said. “Our opponent right now is racism... and we will not lose. We will not lose.”
Coaches in attendance say they plan to educate their athletes in the areas of police relations, trauma, and other issues that they may face in their lives.
And their goal is to make sure that they mold the athletes they coach off the field into people who can make a long-lasting positive change in their communities.
“To see the things that are happening in this world are appalling and disgusting, but we’re united now because this is a coaching fraternity,” a coach from TPLS Christian Academy said. “We’re going to have a meaningful voice for change as we touch the lives that are under us and we’re going to teach them and help them have the voice they’re supposed to have and that’s the way this world is going to change.”
“I’m here for every player that has ever worn a John Marshall Jersey. Today is not about a team, it’s not about a school, today is about inequality and letting it know it no longer lives.” for me, John Marshall Basketball Coach Ty White said. “It was easy to be a part of this... especially when I replaced the name of George Floyd with my son’s name.”
During the ceremony, demonstrators had a moment of silence where they read the names of black Americans who have been killed in acts of violence including Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown Breanna Taylor, Ahamad Arbery and George Floyd.
Demonstrators marched over a mile from the Arthur Ashe Monument to the Lee Monument. The crowd was also joined by Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and Congress Woman Abigail Spanberger.
In the weeks since protests began the base of the confederate monument, a memorial has been made by protestors depicting for the black lives lost to violence. At the monument 804 Coaches for Change said they cow to continue to keep speaking out against racial injustice and inequality.
“If you’re turning a blind eye tow what’s going on you’re selfish and selfish will lead to racism,” Collegiate High School Men’s Basketball Coach, Del Harris said. “The Change is upon us and it always going to be in the people the commonwealth the people are going to take us forward and we’re going to do way more than this! This is just the beginning!”
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