NORFOLK, Va. — Before Old Dominion University men's basketball tipped off against Virginia Wesleyan on Monday, Chartway Arena observed a moment of silence to pay tribute to three University of Virginia football players killed on Sunday night.
As the tribute wrapped up, Monarch head coach, Jeff Jones, silently wiped tears from both eyes and put his mind on coaching his team.
"The game itself, for me, I think probably was a distraction," Jones said.
A graduate of UVA, Jones spent 16 years as a coach for the Cavaliers men's basketball program, the final eight as the head coach.
On Sunday night, UVA football players Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr., and D'Sean Perry were killed after returning to Charlottesville from a class field trip.
After ODU's 72-58 win over the Marlins, Jones only commented on the tragedy at his alma mater.
"It's just got to stop," Jones said. "Here in our own community, there's senseless deaths. I know I'm probably saying something other people do and I don't have any answers, but somehow we've got to come together and we've got to fix this thing."
"We can't keep having our young people especially being killed, being executed."— Zach Staton (@ZStatonSports) November 15, 2022
Here is Jeff Jones' opening statement from tonight after Jones graduated from UVa, spent nearly 20 years as a coach there, and has family that still live in the Charlottesville area.@WTKR3 https://t.co/djFs8ECA0o pic.twitter.com/h2pGVmklY1
Jones got in touch with a few of his former players through a group text, which includes UVA men's basketball assistant Jason Williford, former ODU assistant Bryant Stith, and current Monarch assistant coach Jamal Robinson.
"Just the sadness, the disbelief, the anger," he said. "We've had too many."
During the Monarchs' shootaround on Monday morning, Jones addressed his team about the shooting.
"I said, 'We have a day that those three young me don't have,'" Jones said, his voice breaking mid-sentence. "'I got to pick up the phone and call my kids today. There are parents that can't do that.'"
Tyreek Scott-Grayson, a Monarch senior guard, woke up Monday morning with emotions hitting closer to home seeing the deaths of fellow student-athletes. Sitting with Jones in the postgame press conference, Scott-Grayson said some of the players are still trying to process the news.
"It doesn't make any sense," he said. "Three men didn't get to wake up today and see their families. Every little thing, we need to cherish it and take advantage of our opportunities because nothing is guaranteed."
"We can't keep having our young people especially being killed, being executed," Jones plead. "I'm not offering up solutions, I'm not pretending I know all the answers. But we've got to do better."