2023 Football

Virginia Union Football | Football.Faith.Foundation

Watch Dr. Alvin Parker combine faith and football to establish the culture at Virginia Union in our latest documentary feature.

Virginia Union has a sacred way of establishing their culture, unlike most schools. They are proud of their of culture and are not changing anything about it since it has brought them success.

Virginia Union met with HBCU Gameday during camp to discuss that their faith is the foundation of their culture and the reason for their success.

“If you’re a part of the Virginia Union organization as far as the football team goes, you’ll probably pray about five times a day just in terms of when we break practice. We don’t move without prayer because we need it. Everybody around here knows that and it’s just a part of what we do,” Virginia Union coach Dr. Alvin Parker said.

Virginia Union is a Baptist university, so it is fitting that the football program is centered around faith. Players and coaches continue to lean into their faith on and off the field.

“When I got here, every Sunday during camp is a day that we’re going to church and some days people don’t feel like going to church. I haven’t been to church in the past seven years until I got here because when my grandma died, that was something that me and my grandma did, and coach said it’s a team activity. So when I go there, it’s the word that we got from everywhere we went, and it really wakes you up and makes you wanna get closer to God,” Junior running back Jada Byers said. “I really wanna say last week or was it two weeks ago, that at least 13 of our players and one of our coaches got baptized and got themselves closer to God. So that tells you what Virginia Union is bringing,”

Dr. Parker continues to combine faith and football to establish the culture. His goal is to lead his players in the right direction in football and life.

Virginia Union Jada Byers
Virginia Union running back Jada Byers runs past Elizabeth City State defenders.

“We talk about play for eleven. A portion of that is Proverbs 4:11. I will lead you in the ways of wisdom and direct you along straight paths. It’s the way I gotta lead these guys. It’s the way I gotta show them what I did, show them how I did it, even the things I did right and the things I did wrong. I’m just trying to keep them on those straight paths. It’s a faith-built program,”

The faith-built program has built leaders on the team who are setting the standard for every player who enters the Virginia Union program. They continue to lead the team along the straight path by being an example of the type of leader that Dr. Parker speaks about. The goal is to get players to buy into the culture and prepare them to play in games.

“It’s basically what they see us doing and how they see us acting, how they see us balling, how they see us performing, they just fall in right in. The game might be a little too fast for them but once they get the system down, they’re rolling and then you can put them in at any time. They’re gonna show you they’re ready to play,” Senior defensive lineman Isaac Anderson said.

Virginia Union CIAA Football
Virginia Union gets ready to take the field against Fayetteville State. (092422)

“I think when you have such a good, great group of leaders and your upperclassmen, it makes it a little easier to get those guys to respond a little differently. Our freshmen are responding and hats off to our coaching staff for doing a great job and recruiting all of those guys,” Dr. Parker said.

Dr. Parker is proud of the culture that he has established at Virginia Union and plans to continue to recruit players who will fit into the program. He makes it clear on the type of players that he will recruit.

“We’re gonna win this thing with guys that you bring through the program. We wanna bring as many guys through the program as possible. Like everybody else, we’ll touch a transfer portal and bring in guys like that but you gotta understand, are you willing to sacrifice culture because they’re coming from different places? Sometimes we’re just not willing to sacrifice culture. Somebody buys in and they fit into what we got going on, we’ll bring in that type of guy. Other than that we’ll bring grassroots guys, high school guys, and let them come through the system of what we’re doing and they’ll fall in line,” Dr. Parker explained.

Virginia Union’s system has been effective as they’re coming off a 7-3 season. They will open the season versus Morehouse in the Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic.

Virginia Union Football | Football.Faith.Foundation
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