Members of the Virginia football team met with media today following practice, just two days removed from the violent protests that overtook Charlottesville this past weekend.
Coach Mendenhall chatted with reporters for almost ten minutes, covering a breadth of topics from practice to his message to his team to how recruits reacted to the weekend’s events.
“Our message is one of consistency, unity, embracing diversity, and being together and respecting one another for differences, not separating because of differences,” Mendenhall said of his team. He also listed Kurt Benkert, Daniel Hamm, Quin Blanding, and Micah Kiser as, “...the ones responsible for the care and direction of our team from a player and student leadership perspective.”
Kiser was one of the players who initiated the football team photo on the steps of the Rotunda, an image that shows the Cavaliers symbolically linked arm-in-arm in the location protestors had marched just nights before.
Micah Kiser: "We saw the white nationalists claiming that space as theirs. We wanted to say, 'No, that's not your space. That's our space.'" https://t.co/Zgyt8L0mX5— Andrew Ramspacher (@ARamspacher) August 15, 2017
“Our team, at the players’ request,” Mendenhall stated, “wanted to take a picture in front of the Rotunda yesterday with their arms linked - that was not my idea, it was our players’ idea - and they stand together. They stand united, embracing, in Micah Kiser’s words, ‘the differences’.”
You can see Coach Mendenhall’s full comments here:
Quin Blanding and Kurt Benkert also addressed the media, adding their perspectives on the situation.
#UVA's Quin Blanding on unrest: "No matter color, no matter race, no matter religion, beliefs, we're all one. There's no hate on a team."— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) August 15, 2017
Virginia continues with fall camp, and have their first game of the 2017 campaign on September 2 as they square off against William & Mary. Check out the highlights from fall camp #16, one in which Mendenhall said the offense shone:
Media members expressed their gratitude to the team for accessibility, especially in light of such a large story.