ODU football players, Coach Wilder hoping to start unity movement

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Old Dominion University football players and Coach Bobby Wilder are hoping to start a movement.

The football players wore Black Lives Matter shirts as they warmed up before their game Saturday.

The players asked Coach Wilder for permission, and he said they could wear the shirts as a “one time thing.” But Wilder said he told the players that as role models, they needed to act on the message they were hoping to get across.

The team came up with a movement they’re calling the “circle of unity.” The ODU players, who don’t get to sit or stand for the national anthem because they’re in the locker room, decided to hold hands in a circle once they took the field. Coach Wilder approved of the plan.

Wilder says he and the team are also planning on mentoring kids in the community about diversity.

The coach and his team plan on having another circle of unity ahead of their game against University of North Carolina Charlotte on Saturday, Oct. 1. Players from both teams will come together for the display.

Wilder said it’s important to show a united front because of everything that has been going on in Charlotte following the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.

“We’re going to intermingle,” Wilder told 10 On Your Side’s Deanna LeBlanc. “It’s not going to be Charlotte on one side and ODU on the other. And we’re all going to hold hands and raise our hands up to the crowd, and we’re hoping the crowd gets involved in it. And when we’re done we’re going to shake hands, we’re going to hug, and show the world that more important than a football game is two teams can come together from various backgrounds, who are just about getting ready to beat each other, and show how much they love and support each other.”

The team is hoping their movement spreads.

“We feel the whole world can do this,” Wilder said.

It appears they have definitely started something.

The Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints joined hands in a circle ahead of their game on Monday. Wilder said on Twitter that there were tears in his eyes as he watched the display.

WAVY’s Deanna LeBlanc will have more on this story on FOX 43 at 7 p.m.