Virginia Cavaliers Return To Football Practice With Gratitude, Tony Elliott Says

Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia safety Antonio Clary runs in a drill at practice. ~ Photo courtesy of Virginia Athletics Media Relations/Jim Daves

The Virginia football team opened spring practice on Tuesday and there were plenty of sport-specific things to focus on and develop. Beyond fundamentals and foundational elements, however, UVA coach Tony Elliott had his eyes trained toward two intangibles. Gratitude and enthusiasm.

The reasoning for that is easy to understand. While winter workouts and conditioning competitions had returned for the program, the Cavaliers had not held a practice since last November. The season abruptly ended when Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr., and D’Sean Perry were tragically killed in a shooting shortly after returning from a school field trip. Virginia running back Mike Hollins, who remarkably returned to practice with the team at the start of the spring period, and another student were also injured in the shooting.

There is no specific road map for how to bring players back to practice following a tragedy, but the ongoing healing process continues to focus on supporting one another and honoring the lives lost. One way to do that is through appreciation.

“Just grateful to be on the grass,” Elliott said. “That was the message that I closed practice with and that’s the spirit I came out with. It was matched by the players. Just grateful to have an opportunity to get to play football again. It’s been a long time. Definitely, still got heavy hearts for everything we went through as a program, still grieving, and supporting the families of Lavel, Devin, and D’Sean, but really, really just grateful to be on the grass is big picture for me.