As a polarized nation chooses sides, the Kentucky football program stood together as one Friday afternoon. Dozens of players and coaches joined Mark Stoops to march through downtown Lexington to the Fayette County Courthouse to protest racial injustice everywhere.
“This is a time where I feel like the team is united. We’re all fighting for the same cause,” said Josh Paschal. “I know that every single one of my teammates, no matter the color of their skin, they all have our backs, specifically the black players. We have the support of our white teammates and vice versa. We’re a brotherhood and we really showed that on Friday.”
Organized by director of player development and former team captain, Courtney Love, and Mark Stoops, it meant a lot for Paschal to see his head coach leading the way.
“Coach Stoops, he’s about everything that he says. He has our back through whatever and we know that for a fact. He showed it to the whole country on Friday. No matter what’s going on — no matter if it’s affecting him directly or if it’s affecting us — he makes sure that everyone feels like they are loved and they are supported. He’s really passionate about what he did on Friday and he showed us that and it makes us appreciate him even more.”
In addition to support from coaches, this wasn’t just a protest for black Kentucky football players. The white players, like Landon Young, stood by their side to speak out against injustices. As Landon told Josh, even though he would never truly understand what it’s like to be black in America, he was going to fight by his side no matter what.
“I personally knew that he had my back. That was never a doubt in my mind. Just to hear it and for him to be vocal about it, it means so much to know that he’s willing to use his platform to help us,” said Paschal.
At a time when chaos seems to consume our world, the young defensive lineman provided wisdom beyond his years by using football as a metaphor.
“I feel like football is the perfect example of how we should be. It’s everybody from all different types of backgrounds. You all come together to accomplish one goal and you do whatever it takes to do so. Your brothers next to you, no matter what they may look like, they’re going to sacrifice for you. I feel like that’s exactly what this whole movement is. It’s being willing to appreciate others and being willing to sacrifice for others. I feel like football is important in doing that. Football is a sport that brings people together. It brings unity and that’s what our country needs right now.”