Virginia coaches rally for racial justice at Arthur Ashe statue

Posted at 7:47 PM, Jun 06, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- It was a scene that had Darryl Watts almost tear up as a crowd gathered around the tribute to tennis great Arthur Ashe on Richmond's Monument Avenue Saturday.

“It absolutely did,” Watts explained. “It’s coaches here from Tidewater. College coaches are well represented here. Like I said, it’s really emotional."

The Armstrong Head Boys Basketball Coach reached out to several area coaches this week after what he saw took place during some protests last weekend in Richmond. And the result was an organization called 804 Coaches for Change.

“We started out on Monday with a small idea,” Watts said. “And we expanded, we talked to three or four coaches and today, it’s a wealth of coaches out here representing their schools.”

The idea of the organization was to have coaches from across the area and state come together and create an open dialogue that would allow them to answer questions their players have asked over the last couple of weeks. Those conversations led to them holding a protest at the Arthur Ashe Statue on Monument Avenue which saw over 100 schools from the Commonwealth be represented at the event.

“I had no idea this many people would be here,” St. Christopher’s Assistant Head Coach Stephen Lewis said. “I’m humbled. I was kind of speechless when we started off to have this many coaches out here. I know we’re going to be able to make change with this group.”

“Today we had an opportunity to put our personal teams aside and today we stood for something greater than all of us,” stated John Marshall Head Coach Ty White. “Although we’re on different teams, we’re all on the same side. The side of justice, equality, and fair treatment of everyone.

The protest started at the Ashe Statue and then went almost 1.5 miles to the Robert E. Lee Memorial where it ended.

Everyone that was there said this was just the first step.

“I don’t want this to be a one off,” UVA Associate Head Basketball Coach Jason Williford mentioned. “I want us to go from here, talk about what has to happen, what’s going to change and how we’re going to go about doing that.”