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Social skills: Amboy ahead of local curve in media

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 11:37 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, April 19, 2013 3:23 p.m. CST
Caption
(Illustration by Christopher Heimerman)
Amboy's Tyson Powers lunges for a ground ball during a game against Morrison earlier this season.

For Chris Newsome, it's many things.

It's a source of news and entertainment. It's a network. For the second-year Amboy baseball coach, it's even an avenue to reward his players.

It is Twitter. And coaches like Newsome are learning more all the time what it can be.

The 25-year-old has had a personal account for a while. But on Feb. 7, the first tweet went out from his "work" account, @AmboyBaseball:

"6 returning starters from last year. 95% of pitching is back. Clippers, lets do this!"

Tweets have a 140-character limit. The 85 spent on that burst of info was enough for the team outlook in the Clippers' capsule in SVM's baseball season preview.

"It's one of those things that you have to experience to realize the value," Newsome said. "It's very informational, I find. Especially if you follow the right people."

Newsome follows other coaches from the area, as well as newspapers throughout northwestern Illinois, to keep tabs on scores and happenings.

Even if no one he's following has tweeted about a game, he can simply search for the team name. If anyone has tweeted the score, voila. Instant access.

Newsome also follows several of his athletes, his heart undoubtedly warmed by tweets like the one Aaron Hubbell sent Feb. 15:

"Follow @Amboybaseball to stay updated on our triumph to make it all the way!"

But with both great technology and success on the field come great responsibility. During Newsome's preseason pep talk, he emphasized that, should the team achieve its goals, they would draw attention.

That means not only would other teams be gunning when they faced the Clippers. They might also look for bulletin-board material via social media.

Hence, Newsome urged his players to curb their enthusiasm in the heat of the moment.

"But I know I can't take people's fingers off the smartphone or off the mouse," he said.

Senior Drew Fordham admits he's gotten caught up in the moment and tweeted some things that needed to be rescinded.

"When I calm down, I delete them," he said.

Even Newsome has learned to take a few deep breaths after a big win or a heartbreaking loss.

"I've learned to let it breathe a little bit before you send out a tweet," Newsome said. "I try to have a little fun with it, just because everything's so serious. Everybody wants to win, but you still want to have fun."

Exhibit A: this Twitter offering shortly after a 3-0 loss to Three Rivers foe Erie-Prophetstown on Tuesday:

"Offense missed the bus as clippers traveled to E/P today. E/P 3 - Amboy 0. Nice pitching by @PowersTyson7, 6IP 14K's 1BB in the loss."

In that vein, Newsome likes to give his players some dap, and uses their handles when pumping them up.

"Everybody likes more followers," he said.

"Whenever we do something good, it feels good that he tweets about it," Fordham said.

The Clippers themselves convinced their coach to get on Twitter.

"We're not very far apart in age," Fordham said. "We look at him like a brother, kind of. It wasn't too hard to get him on there."

Amboy assistant coach Jason Hickman didn't see the value of Twitter until he missed a game with a family emergency. He signed up for an account to keep tabs and now finds it to be a unique motivational tool.

"Baseball's a humbling game with so many ups and downs," Hickman said. "Sometimes, one little motivational comment can make all the difference for a player.

"I was definitely not on the Twitter train for a long time."

Newsome wishes more coaches would board. Fulton baseball (@FHSBaseball3) has had an account since last April, and tweets a link to each inning recap, via its scorekeeping software, Gamechanger.

Two months ago, Sterling baseball (@GW_Baseball) got on board. Like the Clippers' tweets, the Golden Warriors' are a blend of recaps, updates and motivational quips.

At the ripe old age of 25, Newsome understands it will take other coaches – especially the older ones – some time to embrace the instantaneous technology.

Still, he often scratches his head when he looks into the opposition's dugout.

"A lot of teams have iPads in the dugout to keep stats, but they don't have a Twitter account," Newsome said. "It's a no-brainer."

They tweeted it

@AmboyBaseball

March 16: "Anyone in Illinois looking for a game that can host? 1A - 4A, we will battle anyone. We want to play! #goclippers"

April 8: "Congratulations to @PowersTyson7 for being named SVM Athlete of the week! Tough one tonight, big one tomorrow."

@GW_baseball

"March 1st means 13 more days till first pitch of the season #practicehowyouplay"

April 6: "Tune to @1060WRHL at 4:20 to listen as the Warriors travel to Rochelle! Listen online at wrhl.net"

@FHSBaseball3

April 8: "Wow, took 7 games into the season for my assistant coach @ZRyder5 to follow me."

April 9: Going from quite possibly the best spring weather last season to quite possibly the worst is very frustrating. Feel for the #seniors

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