A high school athlete could have the best recruiting tape in the world, but give him an iPhone or a laptop, and watch out.
“You take yourself off the map,” Mesa Desert Ridge football coach Jeremy Hathcock said.
Apparently, a player took himself off the NAIA recruiting board from a Surprise, Arizona program for a tweet that drew this Tweet from Ottawa University-Arizona (Surprise) coach David Moseley:
Todd Graham, who is finishing out this season as Arizona State’s football coach in a bowl game, said he tries not to judge someone by a tweet, but he realizes how important it is to show maturity and responsibility on social media.
“It takes a lot of work and diligence,” he said. “You can’t just look at somebody’s social media and really know about them. Everybody makes mistakes. There’s no one perfect. But you have to embody what being a Sun Devil is all about. That’s character, smart, discipline, tough. That comes first before football, before talent, before anything. And character is Number 1.
“We all have good and bad, it’s what we choose to bring out of each other. I want guys that are highly competitive people. I want guys that love to serve, that are givers, and that’s how we define their character. I think we’ve done a great job of that. That’s why this team is so close. That’s why we’ve been able to win the amount of game we’ve won in the last six years.”
Tempe McClintock coach Corbin Smith, who was a college assistant, said the stuff recruits put on social media eventually gets scrutinized by coaches, college admissions, and in conjunction with background checks for jobs.
He says students leave digital footprints for themselves for the rest of their lives.
“Kids don’t understand that social media should be used to promote themselves in a positive light and show what their lives are about,” Smith said. “Instead, it is being used by young people as a popularity contest, ego, and just to gain attention.
“Unfortunately, this is the world we live in, and young people rarely look past their nose to understand the future ramifications of their use of social media.”
Buckeye Verrado football coach Tom Ward said that he has one of his assistant coaches monitor social media to make sure his players are not acting foolish.
“We have some severe consequences in our player agreement that they sign, if they are inappropriate,” Ward said. “We talk about what is appropriate with them. We also try to teach them how to react to negativism toward us or anything that gets under their skin. We constantly remind them that anything used in writing can always be used against them in a negative way.”
Hathcock said that every summer, when his team goes to the White Mountains for football camp, nobody is allowed to bring their cell phones.
This way, he says, “kids have to listen for the first time in their lives.”
“I won’t be surprised if schools are teaching social media 101,” Hathcock said. “It’s going to be in a class.”
High school athletes with social media makes it important for college coaches to be on social media, tracking tweets as much as highlight-tape touchdowns.
“The coaches who have no clue how to interact are being left behind,” Hathcock said.