UPDATE @ 11 p.m.
No sooner than the Wright State University men’s soccer team got off the bus this evening in Fairborn after a seven-hour ride home from Charlottesville, they took to the field to make up the game that missed today.
The team’s exhibition match against the University of Virginia was canceled amid escalating violence among protesters and counter-protesters. Not long after, one person was killed and 19 injured after a car slammed into a crowd of people dispersing the planned rally. The suspect was identified as an Ohioan, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. from Maumee in the northwestern part of the state.
“I didn’t want their last memory of the day to be departing Charlottesville, and you know, state of emergencies on their phone,” Head coach Bryan Davis said. “That’s not for these kids. It’s still a game and it’s still their season and I didn’t want this day to be robbed of them of that. ... For them to finish the day together as a team in an intrasquad scrimmage I think is the only way to fittingly end the day.”
Davis said Wright State was aware of the planned “Unite the Right” rally to protest removal of the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee statue in the city. The plan in cooperation with UVA was to keep the players away from the crowds.
“The world’s going to happen wherever we are and so taking our athletes there was not something we wanted to shy away from,” Davis said.
The coach said his concerns started around 7:30 a.m. when he went for a run around town.
“It was about a thousand police officers in riot gear that early ... that pretty much told you how the day was going to go,” Davis said.
UVA made the call mid-morning to cancel all athletic events, including the soccer match. While the Raiders never saw the violence firsthand, they were so close to it and saw the images and reports on their smartphones.
Hours after the deadly events in Charlotte, Davis said there is something his student atheletes can take away from the day: “The benefit out of this is the reminder that the world is turning as we’re in our little bubble of soccer and life.”
UPDATE @ 8:30 p.m.
The Wright State University men’s soccer team made it back to Fairborn this evening and took in a practice before calling it a day.
The Wright State University men’s soccer team was scheduled to play an exhibition match today against the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
The 1 p.m. game was canceled after violent clashes and protests on Virginia’s campus.
Wright State’s head soccer coach Bryan Davis said his team is safe and on the way back to Ohio. The team will have a practice when they return because Davis said, “I do not want the violence to be the lasting memory they have from this day.”
The team ended their morning practice at 9 a.m. before any of the major protests. The call to cancel the game came around noon when the team was on the bus, and they left shortly after.
The University of Virgina issued a statement on its website:
“Due to the ongoing public safety concerns in downtown Charlottesville and as a result of both the City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle declaring a local state of emergency, the University of Virginia is cancelling all scheduled events and programming today (Saturday) effective at noon. This cancellation includes all academic programming, the scheduled community discussions taking place in the University Libraries, and all UVA Athletic events and programming. The University is monitoring the developments in Charlottesville and continues to coordinate with state and local law enforcement.”