CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — The Downtown Mall in Charlottesville was packed with UVA fans wearing their navy and orange ahead of the national championship game against Texas Tech on Monday night.
Charlottesville is back in the national spotlight, this time for something the community is proud to yell out.
“Go, Hoos! Go, Hoos! Yeah!” fans shouted from the Downtown Mall.
It’s been about a year and a half since the city experienced the deadly “Unite the Right” rally. Locals of Charlottesville told 8News on Monday that the city is still healing. “We’re not like that,” one local said. “No, we’re not. We’re just a nice, peaceful, university town.”
Two Charlottesville natives said the Hoos success on the basketball court this season has brought a sense of pride back to the city. They said if UVA wins the championship, “it would be a big step towards healing. Yeah, a very big step.”
Despite the game not tipping off yet, Charlottesville City Councilman Wes Bellamy already thanked the team.
“Even if they lose,” councilman Bellamy said, “I think what they’ve been able to do so far has been great for our community.”
Public Information Officer Brian Wheeler said the city has made progress but still has a long road ahead. “It’s obviously going to be uplifting for the whole community but it shouldn’t take people’s attention away from the hard work that we need to do as a community,” Wheeler told 8News.
Councilman Bellamy says the story of this year’s team represents the city in so many ways.
“If they can win the national championship it truly is the story that they want to tell, especially after what happened with them in the tournament last year and it’s synonymous with who we want to be as a city,” Bellamy said. “We may have taken a punch in the face back in August of 2017 but we’ve been able to get back up, dusting ourselves off, and we’ve been addressing equity and that’s how we’ve been able to fight back.”
Fans getting ready for the game in Charlottesville told 8News that even if the team loses on Monday night, what the team has been able to do so far has really shined a positive light on the city.