Recent disqualification has local coaches talking about social media

Valley coaches hope their players learn from the Virginia team's mistake -- if you're playing in the big leagues, someone is watching

Poland softball players and coach, coming home after Junior League World win
Poland softball players and coach, coming home after Junior League World win

POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Local coaches are talking about how important good social media behavior is in light of a team’s disqualification in the finals this weekend.

The Poland softball team is the Junior League World Champ but their win came shrouded in some controversy. The Virginia team Poland was supposed to play in the finals got disqualified the day before after posting an inappropriate picture on social media. Poland went on to defeat a team from Washington, winning the title.

High school coaches in Mahoning County hope their players take note — if you want to be in the big leagues, know that someone is always watching.

“It’s one of those things where people will say, ‘Eh, it will never happen to me’ or ‘Nobody’s going to look at my Facebook page or my Twitter page,'” said Boardman Track Coach John Phillips. “The reality is that college scouts and college coaches do all the time.”

Coaches preach social media sportsmanship to their players constantly.

“We reinforce it — certainly at practice — by stressing to be appropriate, to think before you send certain messages but we also see things where athletes have lost scholarships,” Phillips said.

East High Coach Chris Amill said it doesn’t matter if the post is a joke or not.

“Whether you’re joking or it may not be serious and it’s a friendly rivalry, coaches see it for face value.”

He said coaches not only need to be on social media but actively monitoring players’ behavior.

“I think you have to follow your players and understand what they’re doing and what they’re posting so not only can you correct them, coaches see it, their family sees it.”

For the Boardman track team, the competition is always friendly.

“Once the race is over, a lot of hand shaking. These guys are all friends. They communicate through social media with each other and check out how their seasons are going,” Phillips said.

For East High, this year is all about the comeback. The Golden Bears plan on destroying the competition — but with humility and respect.

“We’re going to win but we’re going to win classy. We’re going to win like good people and when you shake hands after a victory, it makes it feel a little better,” Amill said.

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