The social life: Social media becoming a staple for JUCO players and teams

It’s official: social media has invaded JUCO.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have made their way into the dugouts of various teams during the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, including that of Potomac State (W. Va) College.

The Catamounts’ online presence began in 2004 with the addition of a “Player Diary” section to the baseball page of the college’s website. The coaches choose two players at the beginning of each season to blog about their experiences every week. The tradition continued into 2011, with three players submitting entries throughout the season.

“We talk about baseball and we talk about outside of baseball,” sophomore pitcher Andy Smithmyer said.

The combined writings of the three players equate to between three and six pages, he said.

Assistant coach Don Schafer expanded the team’s Internet impact last year by creating a Facebook page as well as Twitter and YouTube accounts. The Facebook page has been “liked” by 556 people so far, and the Twitter account has 96 followers.

“It’s almost a requirement now,” Schafer said of the social media sites. “It’s something you have to do.”

Schafer uses the websites to keep fans and alumni who might not be able to watch the games informed, once even using Twitter as a live news feed during a game against Garrett College. Juggling coaching and posting up-to-the-minute tweets was difficult to manage, he said.

“It’d be great if we had more help,” he said, adding that he’s trying to convince the school’s athletic director to get a system for live statistics instead of multiple tweets.

In addition to keeping fans informed of the Catamounts’ progress, Schafer sees another use for exposure the social media sites provide.

“Long-term, it helps with recruiting,” he said.

Schafer doesn’t fully embrace his role as the team’s social media manager because tweeting and status-updating is so time-consuming.

“I don’t really like that I have to do it, but I do it begrudgingly,” he said.

His players, on the other hand, welcome all forms of social media into their everyday lives, especially during the World Series.

“I’ll see the guys in the hotel or on the elevator, and every five seconds they have their phone out updating their statuses,” Schafer said.

Players from other teams are also getting in on their own Facebooking and Tweeting. Iowa Western Community College catcher Levi Meyer keeps fans back home updated via Facebook.

“People back home enjoy it,” he said. “Since it’s my first time here, I’m on it uploading pictures.”

Meyers updates his status just enough to keep his friends informed, but not enough to go over the top.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve probably updated it four times,” he said.

The players from Navarro (Texas) College, however, have gotten a little crazier with their Facebooking. Their now-famous mascot and good-luck charm, Rally the Turtle, has his own Facebook page, which was created Monday.

Rally T. Turtle, who made the trip to Grand Junction, boasts a staggering 104 friends.

His one and only status update?

“proud of my brothers in the world series. winning both games so far with the run rule.”


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