In this era of information-sharing overload, some things deserve to be repeated.
Here’s a line that’s been typed over and over: The Trinity League is pretty good at sports.
In fact, from its football fields to its basketball courts to its swimming pools, good luck finding a deeper and more competitive assemblage of athletic teams in this country.
All that talent and potential carries increased exposure and attention, and social media applications such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have become excellent marketing tools for schools, teams and even athletes looking to impress potential college recruiters.
At the same time, athletes have never made themselves more visible in their everyday lives, taking advantage of these same social media tools that began popping up 10 years ago, about the same time the Trinity League debuted for the 2005-06 school year.
However, one inappropriate photo on Instagram or tasteless joke on Twitter and suitors could decide to recruit elsewhere. In the last year alone, major college football coaches at Georgia, Penn State and Houston have quit pursuing certain high school athletes after finding improper social media postings.
Trinity League schools are very much aware of the value and downside of social media, but one campus seems to be a step ahead in this growing field. Servite High School is not only the most active Trinity League school on social media, but even has a department that specializes in this area.
Spearheading the operation is Karlie Carlson, a self-described sports nut with a master’s degree in kinesiology and sports medicine from Long Beach State University. She’s keenly aware of the missteps athletes have taken with their social media accounts.
“As much as college athletes think, ‘that could never happen to me,’ it really is happening,” Carlson says. “We really want to focus on that and make sure all of our athletes are prepared so that won’t happen to them.”
Carlson officially serves as the school’s sports information coordinator, a position that also includes facilitating media requests and preparing athletes for interviews. She manages the athletic department’s various social media accounts, broadcasting in-game highlights involving the school’s 13 sports, providing electronic preview material and directing readers to additional articles involving Servite athletics.
Carlson actually wrote her master’s thesis on social media education at the high school level and the importance of utilizing it correctly. She’s spoken to the student body on the topic and brought in other experts.
“We’ve seen the onslaught of social media become so important with the students, as well as the parents, but also with recruiters, so that’s something that we’ve really focused on,” she says. “Not only are [the athletes] doing the work on the field and in the weight room, but also really controlling their on-line presence.”
Carlson considers responsible social media among athletes an integral part of campus life at Servite.
“The teachers are working with them in the classroom and we have our campus ministry and our priests working with them in their spiritual life and our formation program works on their personal growth,” she says. “Obviously, our coaches work on the athletic end, but then I try to help them and support them as well in doing the off-the-field work that goes with social media and making sure they’re always presenting themselves to be the best men that they can be.”