CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) – When Virginia State University (VSU)’s women’s soccer team traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina, to face Guilford College in September, they were not only defeated but also subjected to alleged racial slurs from the opposing fans.
Following the racial slurs that were shouted at players by spectators during the game on Tuesday, Sept. 26, players on VSU’s women’s soccer team spoke about their experience.
“It is 2023. It’s a new era. You would think that everybody just wanted to come and just enjoy the game that we all love to play and watch, but it just takes you back,” said Caitlyn Richey, VSU’s center-back.
The President of Guilford College, Kyle Farmbry, stated that the college was launching an investigation and issued an apology after both universities were informed of the incident.
“Spectators associated with Guilford College directed very disrespectful comments toward the visiting players, tarnishing the experience of those who attended, especially our guests…… According to the information that I have already gathered, loud outbursts from a group of spectators included profanity and derogatory remarks toward the Virginia State team. It was in very poor taste and was very poor sportsmanship by anyone’s definition.”Guilford College President Kyle Farmbry
Associate Vice President of Athletics, Peggy Davis, said Virginia State is grateful for the apology, but said it’s not enough.
“We feel that those individuals who were a part of this incident should apologize to our student-athletes because they deserve to be apologized to,” Davis said. “I think you have to hold individuals accountable for their actions.”
A circumstance like this has never occurred before to a Virginia State athletic team, and they are managing it as best they can.
“We want our student-athletes to have a good quality experience, as we have done consistently. And when they’re subjected to this type of treatment away from campus, then it really does not enhance their quality athletic experience,” Davis said.
18 out of the 19 players on VSU’s women’s soccer team are African American and were impacted because of the comments. Davis said their moods seemed to change during the game.
“It was to the point where some of the student-athletes from Guilford who were competing against our team actually apologized to our student-athletes during the contest,” Davis said.
Head coach Anthony Andrews said it’s difficult to watch his players go through this kind of treatment because it’s Virginia State Women’s Soccer’s inaugural season and most of the players’ first year in a collegiate sport, but he said he will always support the players.
“The sport actually promotes equality, actually promotes a sense of togetherness,” Andrews said. “So when we have situations like this that occur, especially for those individuals that look like us, sound like us, that present ourselves in a great fashion. It’s just very unfortunate as a coach.”
A parent of one of VSU’s soccer players, Tayler McClendon, released a statement about her thoughts on the incident.
“As a parent of a college athlete, the expectation is to ensure a good education and to provide the support to play the game that they love so much. The racism that the girls experienced took the joy out of the game. It was disheartening and gut wrenching. I hope Guilford College takes accountability and not just sweeps this under the rug, and I hope that tougher security measures are made to ensure the safety of not only the athletes, but also the spectators.”Diana Darby, Tayler McClendon’s mother
Despite what occurred, Richey said this won’t stop her team from scoring goals on and off the field and moving forward, which she said was the only option.
“All we can do is keep our heads up because we’re still proud to play. We are still proud to be on the field. At the end of the day, we’re going to dominate,” Richey said.