Two Baseball Coaches Depart Amid Problematic Team TikTok

Two+Baseball+Coaches+Depart+Amid+Problematic+Team+TikTok

In mid-April, Assistant Baseball Coaches Todd Holt and Mikael Mogues left Poly suddenly midway through the season. Their departure occurred after a TikTok that a member of the Varsity Baseball team posted, which prompted a team conversation with Director of Student Life Jared Winston regarding the video’s misogynistic and heteronormative implications. Head of School Audrius Barzdukas confirmed that the coaches are no longer at Poly and that they were connected to the video, but declined to comment on whether they left Poly because of the video. 

The video was posted on the @polyprepbase TikTok account — run by team members — and, following a recent TikTok trend, the players asked their teammates and two assistant coaches, “Who [on the baseball team] would you not let date your daughter?” The responses, naming numerous players, included responses from Holt and Mogues. The Polygon had access to the video, which has since been deleted. 

Barzdukas and Winston confirmed that this description of the video is accurate. 

After the video was posted, after conversing with Barzdukas, Winston met with the baseball team to discuss how behavior, words, and actions come off to others within the Poly community. Barzdukas noted that the meeting wasn’t about discipline, but education. 

Winston noted that the video “is an ongoing social media trend on TikTok across the country. Men’s teams are doing this; women’s teams are doing this. This is a social media phenomenon that has swept the nation and our baseball team got swept up in that phenomenon.” 

During the meeting, Winston said he asked the team, “If you’re being asked that question and you’re naming somebody, are you naming that person because they treat young women nicely? No. The insinuation is that they might treat women disrespectfully or harmfully.”

“I told them, if you were just joking around, it’s kind of bullying,” he continued.“If it wasn’t a joke, I told them that…it is their moral and human responsibility to step in before that person hurts somebody in this community. It’s not going to be one of the players that’s going to be on the receiving end of that misogyny, sexism, or harm — it’s going to be a young woman in our community.” Barzdukas added, “I think that content can be interpreted as not respectful of women and girls.” 

Additionally, Winston also explained to the team the issue with the video from another perspective. “Realize that on a team of 45 young men, that not everybody on this team is straight,” Winston recounted that he said to the team. “Statistically speaking, probably like seven or eight, are a part of the LGBT community. Involving them in that conversation under that premise is neglecting their identities and their lived experiences.” 

Winston felt that the meeting had a positive outcome, with players leaving the conversation with more self-awareness. 

Junior Andruw Castaneda said, “We were upset about the whole situation because we didn’t think that what we did was bad. After [Winston] explained the impact, we kinda understood why the TikTok was harmful. I think we will be more aware of what we post from now on.”

Mogues was the team’s hitting and first base coach. Holt served as the outfield coach for varsity and as a JV coach. 

Though Barzdukas couldn’t comment on whether the assistant coaches left Poly because of involvement with the video, when asked if it was a concern that the coaches were on the TikTok, Barzdukas said, “I think that for anybody, when you’re at work, on our premises, wearing our clothing, we expect you to do your job.” 

The Polygon reached out to Mogues for comment, who wrote in a text, “I’ve been advised not to speak yet from my lawyers.” 

Junior baseball player Esteban García spoke to how the dynamic of the team has changed since their coaches left. “Coach Mogues would give us that extra energy and those extra tips we needed. Coach Todd always made us laugh. It’s definitely sad to see them leave. We really loved having them around as coaches. We have two less coaches at the moment and it definitely affects us,” said García. 

 

Additional reporting by Maerose Daniels