In the United States, a city known for racial tensions and violence welcomed home the national men’s college basketball champions on Tuesday.
Charlottesville, Virginia, is the home of the University of Virginia (UVA). The UVA men’s basketball team, the Cavaliers, defeated Texas Tech for the national championship Monday night. The game was played in Minnesota.
Less than 24 hours later, college students and other people were celebrating in the streets of Charlottesville. Supporters gathered outside the school’s basketball stadium to give the team a hero’s welcome.
Students broke into cheers as they waited for the players. Some retold stories of the Cavalier’s successful season, which included several last-minute victories.
The crowd cheered when the team finally arrived with the championship trophy. Many people were so happy they cried.
UVA men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett said he was pleased to see the victory bring so much happiness “in light of all this community’s been through.”
He added, “There’s an amazing story that has been written from this and I think it’s going to encourage a lot of people.”
The cheering was a marked change from nearly two years ago, when a protest organized by white nationalists led to violence in Charlottesville. A few years earlier, a national magazine claimed a violent rape had taken place at the university. The story was later found to be untrue.
“We were due for some good coverage for a change,” said Matilda Foster, as she waited for the basketball team to arrive on Tuesday. She said the Cavaliers’ success has united the city and surrounding area.
David Toscano once served as Charlottesville’s mayor. He said the team has helped unite the community in ways few other things can.
“This is a really big event for this…city,” he said.
Charlottesville and the University of Virginia have had several painful incidents.
In August 2017, white nationalists gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, who led Confederate forces during the U.S. Civil War. They fought with people who went to Charlottesville to protest racism. Later, a white supremacist drove his car into a group of people, killing a woman and injuring others.
In 2014, Rolling Stone magazine published a story that described UVA as a school where sexual attacks were common and often unpunished. A woman named “Jackie” told the magazine she was raped by seven men at the university in September 2012. An investigation by police in Charlottesville said there was no evidence to back up her claims.
Rolling Stone later withdrew the story and apologized. Also that year, a UVA student was murdered after leaving a Charlottesville bar. In 2010, a student killed his former girlfriend, another student.
Finally, last month, city schools closed for two days over online racist threats. Police later arrested a 17-year-old boy.
UVA basketball team fan Heidi Price came to welcome the national champions.
“It’s a great day,” she said, pleased to put the past behind her.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in this Story
stadium – n. a large building that is used for sports events, musical performances and other shows
trophy – n. an object (such as a large cup or sculpture) that is given as a prize for winning a competition
coach – n. someone who trains or educates others
encourage – v. to give support, advice or hope to