Photos: Thrilled Fans Welcome UVA Football Back in Opening Win
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall and the University of Virginia football team brought plenty of energy to their season opener, but UVA fans might have brought even more.
After the COVID-19 pandemic kept fans out of the stands in 2020, they relished their return Saturday night, pouring into Scott Stadium to watch the Hoos cruise to a 43-0 victory over the College of William & Mary. Among them were more than 10,000 UVA students, packing the student section and making their presence felt all night, from loud cheers on third down to joyful renditions of the “Good Old Song” when the Hoos scored.
Signs of the pandemic were still visible, in the masks fans donned whenever they were indoors or in hand sanitizing dispensers and contactless ticketing stations around the stadium. Great performances by the football team, the Cavalier Marching Band and the UVA cheerleaders and dance team provided a celebratory feel to the day.
After the game, Mendenhall said the flood of students did not go unnoticed. He has called UVA’s fans the team’s “4th Side,” because their extra energy can change a game. He loved seeing students – many of them eager for their first-ever UVA home game – rush to their seats the moment the gates opened on Saturday.
“That was a moment that I’m not going to forget,” Mendenhall said. “That was just gratifying.”
UVA photographer Ziniu Chen was on hand, both for Saturday’s game and for Friday night’s “Paint the Town Orange” pep rally in downtown Charlottesville. His photos capture the energy and excitement of a long-anticipated home opener. Take a look.