southern volleyball eric maxwell
Southern Regional High School girls and boys volleyball coach Eric Maxwell Bill Gross

STAFFORD TOWNSHIP - A video uploaded to YouTube and more recently to the national sports blog shows Southern Regional High School volleyball coach Eric Maxwell hitting a player in the head with a ball in October.

Maxwell said he mistakenly hit the player, whom he would not name, and quickly apologized, but that because of the Internet, the video continues to pop up and be an issue.

The incident has been talked about on Internet forums and in volleyball circles, and more than 7,000 viewers have watched the video on YouTube.

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"To watch that, it's your reputation, and it's hard sometimes to see it," Maxwell said. "For us, it was ultimately over in a couple of hours. I took care of it immediately. It was over in the minds of players and parents. It bothered me that it happened. I disappointed myself I let that happen."

The 38-second video that Maxwell said was shot by the opposing team shows him calmly pick up a volleyball and throw it, striking a player in the head. He said he didn't mean to throw it at the girl, but instead meant to hit the wall in reaction to a series of what he says were bad calls by the referees, resulting in a lost point.

"You see a short clip like that, but no one knows what preceded it. I'm not condoning my behavior in getting upset and yelling at a referee, but my intent was to throw it off the wall. It certainly looks like I threw it at her," he said.

"I've coached her for four years. After it happened, the team rallied around me and said, ‘Coach, don't worry about it.'"

Maxwell said he immediately apologized to parents and the team and he didn't think he owed anyone else an apology.

"I wasn't going to run around and put out little fires everywhere," he said.

Maxwell also wrote a letter to the team, parents and administration, apologizing for the incident.

"I wanted everyone to know from me that it was wrong and it was an unsportsmanlike act. I needed to write it for myself, and was asking for forgiveness," he said.

Southern Regional School District Superintendant Craig Henry said Monday afternoon that the incident was an anomaly and completely out of character for Maxwell.

"This coach is a faith-based individual and he is moved to emotion every time it comes up. He's a class act in everything he does," Henry said.

Henry added that because of the incident, Maxwell is being closely monitored by the administration. Maxwell, who is also a special-education teacher in the district, will be on probation for one year, Henry said.

"It's a very regrettable and unfortunate situation, and it should not have occurred. It was an exhaustive investigation, and Coach Maxwell is mortified that it occurred," Henry said.

Henry added that watching the video is disturbing and that Maxwell has also admitted that.

"But the Internet has provided a forum for anything and everything to be put out there. In the age of the Internet anything can be perpetuated," Henry said.

Athletic Director Kim DeGraw-Cole said Maxwell is an award-winning, 10-year veteran coach who brought home two state volleyball titles last year.

"The fact that the ball hit one of his players that he cares about and coaches is embarrassing. He took the proper steps before we took action," DeGraw-Cole said. "It wouldn't matter if he threw the ball at the wall, it wouldn't be appropriate. No one felt worse than he did."

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