Editor's Note: Resources for UR students include CAPS, at CAPS@richmond.edu.
Kind. Loving. Selfless.
Ulises Sarria, a redshirt sophomore wide receiver for the University of Richmond football team, used these words to describe D’Sean Perry, who Sarria considered one of his best friends and brother.
Perry, a University of Virginia junior linebacker, was fatally shot alongside two of his teammates, junior wide receiver Devin Chandler and junior wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr. on Nov. 13 coming back from a school trip in Washington, D.C.
Sarria, who attended high school with Perry at Gulliver Prep in Miami, Florida, said he initially heard about the shooting from a group chat he was in with Perry and other friends. Sarria had woken up in the middle of the night and received a phone call from another one of his former teammates, who plays for UVA, saying Perry was in the hospital. Then, Sarria heard Perry had died.
“Once I had found out the news, it was probably like three or four in the morning,” Sarria said. “I was just crying. I couldn’t really sleep that night.”
Perry was from an area in Miami called Richmond Heights. Sarria, who was a year below him at Gulliver Prep, said Perry went through the public school system and then started attending Gulliver Prep in the eighth grade. The two met when Sarria was in ninth grade.
“Even after football, we’d hang out all the time,” Sarria said. “We even had a group chat with some of the kids and every time we were all back home, we’d all ‘oh, let’s go do this, let’s go do that.’ He was, I’d consider, one of my best friends.”
As an athlete, Perry was hard-working and powerful, Sarria said.
Since the shooting, Sarria said he has gone back and looked at Perry’s high school highlights, where he dominated on the field.
“He was one of the most talented people I’ve ever seen,” Sarria said. “Not only just ‘cause the God-given talent that he had but also the work that he put in. He even played basketball, too. He was really good at that as well.”
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On the field, Perry tackled opponents with force, Sarria said, but off the field, Perry would brighten his friends’ days.
“He was the funny friend in our group,” Sarria said. “I would say he’s like that one friend when you’re mad or you’re annoyed at something, he’s the one that’s making you laugh, kind of tickling you, this and that. He was that one friend, you know?”
Sarria said Perry was planning to major in the arts, as he was very artistic — someone who could draw and loved music. After his time at UVA, Perry was definitely looking at playing in the NFL, but Sarria knew Perry would have wanted to have done something with art, which Perry was passionate about, Sarria said.
As a football player himself, Sarria said no matter what level — Division I, Division II or Division III — it always hurts losing someone in the sport.
“Anytime anything happens to another football player, even if it’s our rival, it’s always gonna hurt, just ‘cause at the end of the day we have that camaraderie,” Sarria said.
Sarria said his coaches had handled the Nov. 13 tragedy well. His wide receivers’ coach, Winston October, and the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Billy Cosh, have especially been there for him, he said.
Student-athletes needing mental health support can also connect with people like Rachel Turk, staff psychologist for the athletics department. When a tragedy like the UVA shooting occurs, Turk typically sees more students in individual therapy, wanting to discuss the event and the impact it may be having on them, she wrote in an email to The Collegian.
“I also typically have many other meetings within athletics — with administrators, coaches, etc. — on what needs to be done to support our student-athletes in the following days,” Turk wrote. “Sometimes larger group programs are put into place to give folks a space to talk and get support.”
At this point in the semester, people need extra support, as there is a lot of academic stress from assignment deadlines and registration that is impacting student-athletes, on top of practices, lifts, team meetings and competition, Turk wrote. So far this semester, around 80 student-athletes have had at least one individual appointment, Turk said.
While a number of students who were already coming to Counseling and Psychological Services have been talking with their counselors about what happened at UVA, there has not been an increase in new students asking for services, CAPS director Peter LeViness wrote in an email to The Collegian.
“This is what often happens,” LeViness said. “Most of us naturally turn first to trusted friends and family members for support. It is usually when those resources are not enough that individuals seek out professional counseling services.”
In addition to reaching out to trusted friends, family and loved ones, other resources available to UR students are CAPS, the Chaplaincy, the college deans, and faculty and staff whom students know and trust, LeViness wrote.
There will be a moment of silence for the UVA victims at the Capital Cup and the Colonial Athletic Association championship on Nov. 19. The men’s basketball team also held a moment of silence before its game at home on Nov. 17 against Wichita State University.
According to the Spider Athletics Instagram account, the football team will also wear a UVA decal on its helmets to honor those lost on Nov. 13.
“I mean it’s definitely a tough situation, ‘cause we have a lot to play for in this game against William & Mary, but then there’s also this thing going on, so [we are] kind of trying to keep that mindset as well,” Sarria said.
UVA will host a memorial service at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at John Paul Jones arena in Charlottesville, Virginia, for Perry, Davis Jr. and Chandler in place of what would have been the team’s second-to-last regular season game against Coastal Carolina University.
Contact sports writer Jimmy James at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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