LYNCHBURG, Va. – A celebration is underway at Liberty University as the 2021 Virginia Commonwealth Games return.
On Friday, the tailgate party kicked off at 5:30 p.m. with opening ceremonies set to start at 8 p.m. in the Liberty University Indoor Practice Facility. But even though it’s all good fun, it isn’t the part everyone is looking forward to the most.
“Last year, it was just empty arenas,” said basketball coach Roger Wilson.
Coaches and players alike are more than ready to get out and compete after being sidelined by the pandemic.
“I’m glad everyone is able to stay in the gym, able to look around, to have fun and enjoy time in the gym,” Wilson said.
Wilson is coaching his son’s eighth-grade travel team. Thanks to the sponsorship of a local sports shop, Wilson’s team is just one of three that Dick’s Sporting Goods is gearing up this year.
“It’s really exciting for the team here in Lynchburg but more exciting for the kids,” Dick’s Sporting Goods Community Marketing Manager Brent DiGiacomo said. “They get a chance to do something that will be a lifetime memory for them. We’re just hoping that they bring home the gold.”
Wilson said if it wasn’t for their support, the kids might not have had a chance to play in the Commonwealth Games this weekend.
The team is just one of several competing in the tournament, and it’s their first time.
“A lot of local teams you only have three or four teams in a bracket,” Coach Jeremy Cash says. “Here it’s like 10. It’s an awesome experience for the kids.”
Cash and his team are lacing up all the way from Harrisonburg.
“I just love the game and the opportunities you get out of it,” athlete Marcus Miller said.
“Especially now with my kids being teenage levels, they’re fighting the temptation to want to go and hang out and stay on the right path,” Wilson added.
Wilson said sports have so much good to offer, adding that he can’t wait for a weekend spent watching athletes do what they love.
There will be several other competitions on campus throughout the course of the weekend.
As for the tailgate, it will run into the opening ceremony at 8 p.m, and at 8:30 p.m., a fireworks show will take place for everyone to attend.