A girls high school volleyball coach in New Jersey finds himself apologizing yet again for an issue that just won't go away -- thanks to the Internet. The issue is his hitting one of his own players in the head with a volleyball.
It happened last October during a Southern Regional High School match. Coach Eric Maxwell says he was angry by a serious of calls that cost his team a point. He picked up an errant ball, and intended to throw it at a wall. Instead, it hit one of his players in the head. The incident was caught on video.
Maxwell immediately apologized, sending a letter to the parents of his players, saying in part:
It is with deep regret and humility that I write this letter. My actions on the court yesterday were unprofessional, unsportsmanlike and embarrassing. I feel that I not only embarrassed myself but also Southern Regional and our volleyball program. There are no excuses for my behavior and I simply ask for your forgiveness as you have entrusted me with the welfare of your daughters.
Maxwell said his players rallied around him, telling him what happened was no big deal. That should have been the end of the story, but with the Internet, stories never end. After the video was posted to YouTube and the national sports blog Deadspin.com picked it up, the story had legs again.
"For us, it was ultimately over in a couple of hours," Maxwell said. "I took care of it immediately. It was over in the minds of players and parents."
"You see a short clip like that, but no one knows what preceded it. I'm not condoning my behavior in getting upset and yelling at a referee, but my intent was to throw it off the wall. It certainly looks like I threw it at her," he said.
Southern Regional School District Superintendent Craig Henry said the incident was an anomaly and completely out of character for Maxwell. "This coach is a faith-based individual and he is moved to emotion every time it comes up. He's a class act in everything he does," Henry said.
Even still, Henry said Maxwell is now being closely monitored, and will be on probation for one year.
"It's a very regrettable and unfortunate situation, and it should not have occurred. It was an exhaustive investigation, and Coach Maxwell is mortified that it occurred," Henry said.
While Maxwell, the team, and the school would like to put this in the past, it may not be possible.
"But the Internet has provided a forum for anything and everything to be put out there. In the age of the Internet anything can be perpetuated," Henry said.