CornerKICKS: The negative reality of a blown opportunity

CornerKICKSJoe Trost, columnist

It’s a phone call that I still remember like it was yesterday.

Barrington boys soccer coach Scott Steib was on the other end, asking me why I had to focus on the negative?

“Scott, is it negative or truth,” I asked back.

“It’s negative,” he said.

Moments later, I hung up the phone and turned to a co-worker in the office and said, “Some of these soccer coaches can’t see reality at times.”

Steib was upset that I focused the lead of my Sun-Times notebook on the fact that for the second consecutive year, top-ranked Barrington – with some of the best players in the Midwest – was bounced out of the state playoffs in its regional.

Not its sectional – its regional.

All season, Barrington was No. 1 in the rankings, getting coverage and the facts led to consistent praise. But the minute things didn’t go as planned for the second consecutive year, the facts all of a sudden became negative.

“He’s just upset or a sore loser – one of the two,” my co-worker said.

I knew Scott was just upset, and that the story was factual.

This past week though, I thought about that conversation as word spread regarding an embarrassing tweet from the Naperville Central girls soccer program following its loss to rival Naperville North.

From @RedhawksGirlsSoccer: “Varsity lost to NN 2-1 in an ugly game. There were over 70 fouls. Ref loved his whistle. NN scored at 6:42 on a controversial call if ball crossed. NC responded at 2:37 on Abbey Hillman cross to Liz Barker. NN scored at 24:06. Shots were even. Huntley tomorrow. @NCHSRedhawks

I read that tweet over and over and kept asking myself: Am I being negative or am I writing about the embarrassing reality of this tweet?

Imagine if an official, parent or player posted a tweet questioning a coach, noting that he/she loved to yell all game long just to hear themselves; or had controversial subbing patterns; or didn’t have their players in the right spots.

How do you think that would go over?

The tweet from the “official soccer account” was deleted a little more than 12 hours later, but the damage was done. Think about this for a second: A high school social media account publicly shaming an official by throwing a public tantrum and looking classless for all to see.

Add in the fact that it tagged the Naperville Central athletic department in the posting, and the common-sense express train didn’t arrive to pick up anyone until midmorning the next day.

Mercy.

Just a reminder: High school sports aren’t about coaches, officials, parents…or dumb tweets by adults. If you don’t believe me, ask any college coach or media member why they’re in attendance?

The answer is simple and will be the same 99.9 percent of the time: the players.

At the end of the day, this was a blown opportunity to use the power of social media and exposure to praise players on both sides who stood out in the crosstown battle…and you know, show some class in defeat.

But hey, I guess that’s what they call the true negative reality of the situation.

DISMISSED: Bolingbrook coach Jamie Clemmons became the latest Chicago-area coach to be fired from his boys and girls coaching positions for inappropriate comments made to a player.

OVERLOOKED PLAYER: Remember the name Veronica Walker, a junior at Hampshire. Not only is she a star on the soccer field, but also the basketball court, too.

Walker has 19 goals despite splitting her time between up top and in the back.

When Walker is at forward, her team can score but then it struggles to defend. When she’s in the back, Walker is able to slow the opposing offensive attack, but then her team struggles to score.

“She’s humble, extremely talented and a very well-rounded young lady,” said former Huntley girls soccer coach Kris Grabner, who is now the Director of Coaching for the Heat United Soccer Club.

WELCOME HOME: Lane captured the Chicago Public League Girls Soccer Championship with its win over Young on Thursday night at UIC.

For the first time in years, the popular event returned to its former home at UIC where it used to draw large crowds for the city title match each fall and spring.

Here’s to hoping new UIC women’s coach Tom Anagnost and assistants Matt Gill and Dustin Downey make this an annual opportunity to showcase the ever-improving Public League.

DID YOU KNOW? Elk Grove junior midfielder Kate Talens also is a talented gymnast.

“She works incredibly hard, is attentive to details and puts her best effort on the field every game for the team,” Elk Grove girls soccer coach Dean Burrier said.

CornerKICKS will appear on Sundays. Contact Joe Trost at joetrost@gmail.com.

Bio on columnist: Joe Trost was an award-winning writer at Star Newspapers, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and ESPN.com. Locally, he is a three-time statewide IHSSCA Media Person of the Year and founder of the PepsiCo Showdown, the largest high school sports series in the U.S.