Q&A: Coaches help guide students on social media etiquette

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Michigan State University coaches don’t just guide their student-athletes on the field. Many also are becoming coaches for students’ social media presence.

Spartan Newsroom talked with coaches from the women’s field hockey, men’s soccer and men’s baseball teams about how they’re implementing social media policies with their players:

  • Skyler Meade spent three seasons as baseball team’s pitching coach until he was hired by the South Carolina Gamecocks in November.
  • Georgia Holland joined the MSU field hockey team in June 2016 as an assistant coach. She played at Yale for four seasons and Wake Forest for one season.
  • Men’s soccer assistant coach Cale Wassermann is the former head coach of Saginaw Valley State University’s soccer team, where he was the winningest coach in the team’s history. He joined the Spartans in 2015.

Spartan Newsroom: What is the social media policy for your team?

Skylar Meade (baseball): “Our policy is that nothing that they post should be negative about other programs, and not just in baseball (so when football beats Michigan we aren’t going to say Michigan sucks, can’t throw, etc). But they are allowed to have accounts… they just need to be smart about what they post. For example, don’t have yourself chugging beer on your instagram, easy way to get a call to the office.”

Georgia Holland (field hockey): “Our team policy for social media gives a lot of freedom and responsibility to our players. We ask for them not to post or comment about our opponents and not to use foul language, but those are our only real “rules.” We have enough trust and faith in our players to use social media appropriately, so we don’t feel the need to enforce any in-season bans from social media or anything like that.”

Cale Wassermann (soccer): “Our players must allow the coaching staff to “follow” them on various social media platforms (Facebook, twitter, snapchat, etc) if their account is not public. Coaches monitor things periodically and communicate with players if any issues arise. We focus on social media education in preseason (and throughout season) and discuss the positives and negatives and how things can perceived in the public eye, etc.”

From left to right: Jordan Keur, Graham Sikes, Jake Boss Jr. and Skylar Meade.

Courtesy of Jordan Keur

From left to right, members of the coaching staff of Michigan State University’s baseball team include volunteer assistant coach Jordan Keur, assistant coach Graham Sikes, head coach Jake Boss Jr. and now-former pitching coach Skylar Meade. Coaches often help guide student-athletes about what they should — and shouldn’t — post on social media.

SN: Do you and the rest of the coaching staff encourage your players to post on social media or to stay off it?

Meade: “We encourage them to put out positive stuff, just as we do for our team all the time on our coaching staff accounts… so positive stories on current and former players, community service etc.”

Holland: “We don’t encourage, but we also don’t discourage our players from using social medias. I think it is such an ingrained part of their daily lives these days that to force them off it would be impossible. We just try to guide them to make smart decisions about what they are posting.”

Wassermann: “We do encourage them to use social media in a positive manner if they choose to use it. We encourage them to be aware and respectful while using social media… as we encourage them to be aware and respectful in every facet of life on and off the field.”

SN: Has there ever been any issues regarding your players and the use of social media?

Meade: “There really has not been any issues that are major in my time here. Our guys have been pretty intelligent on those aspects, not to say something will never happen, but we just stress common sense when it comes to what you post.”

SN: How do you educate social media to your players?

Wassermann: “We do educate them on the risks of using social media not only within our team, but in the real world and whatever they post is there forever. We have also discussed these issues with recruits – we often find recruits have not been educated on this stuff at all before they get to college.”

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