Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Letter to the NC Volleyball State Champions

Dear NC High School State Champions,

Let me start by saying Congratulations on winning. As a two-time winner of a 8A State Championship in Illinois, I can definitely say it's an experience you'll never forget and I hope you enjoyed every minute.

Last week I was on twitter before I went to bed and noticed one of my followers had retweeted a distasteful tweet. I assumed it was a joke or possibly from a fan, but ended up stumbling upon several tweets from a team that used to come to some of our UNC Volleyball Team Camps (possibly still does) in North Carolina and I was literally speechless.

First I'm going to start with how you're hurting yourself...

Don't you know that your social media profiles are public? Don't you know that ANYONE can see these? Do you hope to play volleyball in college someday, possibly get a scholarship?  Do you hope to get a job one day? When I played Volleyball at the University of North Carolina all of our social media presences were monitored weekly by our head coaches because we don't just represent ourselves- we represent our school, our team, our sport, and women in general. Many of you have past tweets about sex, alcohol, drugs, etc. and these can be judged by people who have no clue if you're joking or not.

Unfortunately and fortunately, you aren't like everybody else. Others can tweet about going to parties, drinking underage, but what kind of message is that sending to your coaches, peers, and future employers? You are held to higher standards than others, and are subject to more criticism. Any random teenager getting high or drunk at a party and is no big deal, but when you're recognized by others- all of a sudden pictures are taken that you can never get back

And don't get me wrong- when people would see me play I was as competitive as they get. It pained me to high five an opponent after a loss, and during games I would have no problem telling my server who I believed the weakest passer on the team was. Personal jabs, in a public forum, are never acceptable and just come across as extremely jealous and/or insecure.

You are also hurting women athletes...

Women sports already have a stigma in this country, one that female athletes are trying so hard to overcome. Have you seen this video about the girl pitcher who competed in the little league world series? It gave me goosebumps to the message she is able to spend.

Your tweets may be targeted for your classmates to think that you are funny, but think about all the young girls you could be inspiring that could also be following you. You probably look up to certain players in college or the Olympics, and there are currently younger girls in the community who attend your games to look up to you and aspire to be you.

My high school coach taught me the trick to a good interview, and I would like to pass this onto you- after every game every question should be answered with a compliment to your opponent and a compliment to your teammate. How does it feel to win this huge game? (Opponents name) is such a great team who made so little errors, so I'm really happy with how my team played. You set a personal record with 30 kills, how does it feel? Considering (opponents name) is such a good team, it's crazy, but I think that really shows more to how great our defense was and how athletic my setter is.

You are also hurting people...

Calling opposing teammates ugly, annoying, or unskilled to yourself or other teammates is one thing- but sharing it for the entire WORLD to see, with the intent of them seeing these messages is another. Calling opposing players from a team you played derogatory names, from bitch, to thot (hoe), to literally "shoutout to #4 lookin like a mixture between an alien and an acorn" is really confusing to me why you would intentionally try to hurt people that you don't know.

Honestly I didn't know the best way to go about approaching this matter, and decided I would reach out to your coach and principal about the issue. They promptly asked for proof, and unfortunately I still haven't received a response, and many of the tweets are still on twitter which makes me believe they're choosing to wait until after the season to address the issue.

One of my teammates killed herself this past year. She was picked on constantly, and although she received a full ride scholarship to a great ACC school, was smart enough to get into a prestigious med school after college, and had a boyfriend that loved her- she still chose to end her own life. You never know what battles people are facing, and it's important to understand everyone has a struggle you know nothing about.

Calling another girl bitch or ugly in order to get favorites is so twisted. We grow up in a society where many judge their prettiness by number of likes pictures get, or their wit based on the number of RTs or favorites on twitter, and I plead to you that this mentality has to change. 

These girls, under my advice, made their twitters PRIVATE- so they wouldn't be bothered anymore, yet you decided to keep taking jabs, tweeting again how she was a bitch.
Your principal wouldn't tell you, your coaches wouldn't tell you, and your teammates wouldn't tell you- so here I am to tell you that this is not cool. Although the screenshots can be removed from this site, other screen shots will never go away. No different than the words you have spoken of hate will stay in people's minds infinity times longer than words of praise will.
Like I said, this is a time you'll remember the rest of your life, however I'm a firm believer high school athletics should be teaching you much more than just passing, setting, and hitting. I don't think anyone is expecting an apology, however I do expect these tweets to be promptly deleted. 
From a former athlete,
Emily McGee

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