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High school girls' basketball coach fired for disparaging comments about Maryland recruit

TIM SCHWARTZ
The (Annapolis) Capital (TNS)
Angel Resse

Archbishop Spalding girls' basketball coach Lisa Smith has been fired after making disparaging comments about St. Frances player Angel Reese in an Instagram direct message.

Archbishop Spalding is located in Severn, Maryland, about 70 miles south of York.

Smith, who confirmed her dismissal on Friday, was in her first year as head coach of the Cavaliers and previously was the co-head coach at Severn School.

Reese, who committed to Maryland in December, leads top-ranked St. Frances in scoring and rebounding and was last season’s Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year.

According to a story Friday by Jerry Bembry at The Undefeated, Smith wrote an Instagram direct message to the Overtime women’s basketball page that Reese was “genetically blessed” and that Reese’s behavior is “repulsive, unacceptable, unflattering and unnecessary.”

Overtime WBB posted a video clip of Reese on Tuesday, which prompted Smith’s response.

A screen shot of Smith’s private message to Overtime WBB posted by The Undefeated reads, “Celebrating a player (w god given height and talent) and zero humility or impulse control. 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 …”

"Deeply regrets" her comments: Smith told The Capital that she “deeply regrets” her comments.

“I fully assumed it would remain private," Smith said. "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.

“I have had the pleasure of coaching many athletes throughout my career. I will continue to have lifelong relationships with these young ladies. I’ve also been blessed to work with some of the best coaches in the area. These young ladies, their families, and my fellow coaches know my character and intentions, and their opinions are all that matter to me.”

Making her apologies: The Undefeated report also says Reese’s mother received an Instagram message from Smith apologizing, as did Archbishop Spalding Athletic Director Jeff Parsons. Parsons could not be reached for comment.

“The comments were inappropriate and, as a coach, I hold her to higher standards,” Reese’s mother said in the report. “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.”

Reese is the nation’s No. 2 recruit in ESPN’s 2020 HoopGurlz recruiting rankings. She told The Undefeated, “It bothers me that someone could come at me for the way that I’ve always been. I’m just trying to put on for St. Frances and attempting to lift the status of basketball in Baltimore City.”