Private social media messages don’t always remain private.
When Lisa Smith’s were released last week, it cost the Archbishop Spalding High School (Md.) girls' basketball coach her job. Smith was fired for making disparaging comments about an opposing player on Instagram, according to The Baltimore Sun.
A Friday story on The Undefeated detailed how Smith responded to a Jan. 14 Instagram video, posted by Overtime women’s basketball, that highlighted St. Francis Academy senior Angel Reese. Smith’s direct message to Overtime was dismissive of Reese, a 6-foot-3 Maryland commit who is ranked second in ESPN’s 2020 HoopGurlz recruiting rankings.
“Celebrating a player (w god given height and talent) and zero humility or impulse control,” the message said, according to The Undefeated. “As a female coach of female high school ballers, I find this behavior repulsive, unacceptable, unflattering and unnecessary. You can have swag while not acting like a punk. Highlight some other girls in the conference who aren’t as genetically gifted.”
According to The Undefeated, Overtime employee Chloe Pavlech read the message, then found a December message from Smith that called Reese “not the greatest player that’s ever come out of this area. She’s genetically blessed. And lacks any humility. Guess you haven’t watched the film of her.”
Pavlech posted screen shots of the messages with the caption, “Why do women try to tear down young girls?” She didn’t release the end of Reese’s December message, which referred to a fight Reese was involved in last season.
Reese was hurt when she came across the messages from Smith, who was in her first year as Archbishop’s head coach.
“That’s a team that I played against for four years, and we just played them last week and I never had a problem with them,” Reese said. “It’s hurtful that someone would come at me in that way. I never try to hurt anyone. I just play hard.”
Reese’s mother, also named Angel Reese, reached out to Smith on Instagram, informing the coach that she was going to send her messages to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland.
“The comments were inappropriate and, as a coach, I hold her to higher standards,” the elder Reese said, according to The Undefeated. “I felt like she was slandering my daughter’s name, and by using words like ‘genetically and God-given talent,’ I feel like there were racial overtones in what she said.
“If I hear something like that from another parent or player, that would have been fine because games are intense. I’m not comfortable with a coach saying that because I have no idea what she’s told her players, and what her players might do to my daughter.”
Smith responded with “I am so sorry that you were privy to my message. My intention was never to personally hurt or offend anyone when I sent the DM (privately) and foolishly never imagined that anyone other the [sic] curator would read them. But this is a painful lesson that there are, in fact, real people behind the IG name/account. With that said, I regret sharing my thoughts and actions. But moreso [sic] I deeply regret that I offended you and your daughter. I don’t expect your forgiveness- I’d likely respond the same if I were you. I sincerely apologize.”
Smith clarified her position to The Capital Gazette.
“I fully assumed it would remain private," Smith told The Capital Gazette. "I believe coaches should be held to the highest of standards, but we are also human and may have momentary lapses in good judgment. With that said, the information that has aired to date takes my message out of context and portrays me in a light that is not consistent with my character.
"That platform was an Instagram page that highlights girls and women’s basketball and my intent was to say, ‘Hey, here are other kids you can highlight.’ I sent a private message to an Instagram account featuring girls and women’s basketball — responding to a highlight video of a high school player — suggesting that they consider featuring other players for reasons which, in my opinion, were based on things I was privy to. I thought it should remain confidential or private.”