CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Current associate head football coach Marques Hagans and former women’s rower Hailey Barnett were honored by the Atlantic Coast Conference today (Oct. 21) as UVA’s recipients of the 2022 ACC UNITE Award.
The award was created to honor individuals affiliated with the league who promote and encourage racial equity and social justice through education, partnerships, engagement and advocacy. Those selected have helped create meaningful, lasting change by improving systems, organizational structures, policies, practices and attitudes or have been pioneers and/or helped pave the way for minorities either at the institution or in the community.
The UNITE Award is an initiative of the ACC’s Committee for Racial and Social Justice (CORE – Champions of Racial Equity). Each school selects its two recipients based on the above criteria and can choose to celebrate their selections at campus events throughout the academic year.
Hagans played football at Virginia from 2002-05 and is in his 11th season at a member of the program’s coaching staff. He currently serves as the Cavaliers’ wide receivers coach in addition to his responsibilities as associate head coach. Hagans best exemplifies the ACC CORE’s mission of promoting and encouraging racial equity and social justice through his work with the athletics department’s Groundskeepers organization and Charlottesville-based Prolyfyck Run Crew.
As one of the founders of Groundskeepers, Hagans works to bring change to the Charlottesville community by encouraging his student-athletes to learn and educate themselves about racial inequities. The group organized the “Groundskeepers Walk” that student-athletes, coaches, staff and community members can take to learn and reflect. The three-mile walk starts at Heather Heyer Way – the street named in honor of the woman who lost her life when a white nationalist purposefully drove into a crowd of people peacefully counter-protesting the Unite the Right rally on Aug. 12, 2017 — in Downtown Charlottesville, stops on Grounds at the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers, and concludes at the Rotunda. Through the Groundskeepers and similar initiatives, Hagans continues to create lasting change for the football team, athletics department and the surrounding community.
Additionally, Hagans has helped pave the way for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) in the community through his engagement with the Prolyfyck Run Crew. During the summer of social unrest, a group of men in the Charlottesville community decided to create a space for people of color to feel safe running. They chose a route that specifically went through predominantly Black communities to claim a space for a Black-led running group. Hagans was an early member of the group’s runs and helped spread its message and increase participation in Prolyfyck among community members.
Barnett, who rowed for the Cavaliers from 2018 to 2022, created meaningful change and promoted social justice through multiple initiatives as a Virginia student-athlete. Most impressive, she was selected as a Contemplative Sciences Center Athletics Fellow. In that position, she worked on a three-prong fellowship project to provide anti-racist education resources to student-athletes, spearhead a collaborative development of steppingstone memorials to UVA’s enslaved laborers, and facilitate more local volunteer opportunities for her fellow student-athletes. That project’s intent is to create lasting change for the University as a whole and make an impact on the Charlottesville community for years to come.
Barnett’s dedication to serving the community makes her stand out from her peers. She organized multiple food drives for the local area food bank and involved her team and the entire athletics department to help close the gap in food insecurity in Charlottesville. She and her twin sister, Myla, who played women’s lacrosse at UVA, created an Instagram account to allow athletes to voice their thoughts and opinions about racial injustices. Barnett has also spoken about being a Black student-athlete in a predominately white sport, giving advice to future rowers on how she got to where she is.
“We are proud to honor the ACC UNITE Award winners who have made significant contributions in the areas of racial and social justice,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips. “These 30 individuals are true pioneers who inspire us with their contributions to a more diverse and equal society. As a conference we will remain steadfast in our pursuit of racial and social justice, while assisting our student-athletes and institutions with programs that can affect change.”
2022 UNITE Award Recipients
Boston College: M. Quentin Williams & Dr. Constance Smith Hendricks
Clemson: Wayne Jenkins & Barbara Kennedy-Dixon (posthumously)
Duke: Michael Howard & Gracie Johnson
Florida State: Leonard Hamilton & Morgan M. Jones
Georgia Tech: Lucius Sanford & Lynn Houston-Moore
Louisville: Jim Freeman & Valerie (Owens) Combs
Miami: Corey Jones & Lauryn Harris
North Carolina: Charles Scott & Kathy Crawford
NC State: Dr. Marcus Martin & Charece Williams Gee
Notre Dame: Cason Wilburn & Niele Ivey
Pitt: Dr. Bettina Love & Herb Douglas
Syracuse: Dedrick Etan Thomas & Emily Nugent
Virginia: Marques Hagans & Hailey Barnett
Virginia Tech: André Davis & Reyna Gilbert-Lowry
Wake Forest: Jim Caldwell & Charlene Curtis (posthumously)