CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)– Colin Rea unexpectedly found TikTok in a place not usual to most. Still, it served him well in the long run.
Rea started consistently doing TikTok back after he was released from prison back in 2019. His second TikTok ever went viral and gathered over one million views. From that point on, he never looked back.
His account now has over 2.4 million followers racking almost 180 million likes all around. He’s recognized now as a local celebrity in the Gallitzin area, but he always remains humble.
“I get stopped for pictures and stuff like that. I’m just a dude,” Rea said. “I’m not one of these people that’s going to act differently or think I’m better than you. You know I’m just a dude with a criminal record that just happened to get lucky on social media.”
His content is a mixture of positive messages and a series where he messages his parole officer. In the summer of 2021, he began posting videos of the Gallitzin Little League team. He started attending those games to cheer on his nephew and quickly formed a bond with the other players.
“Those videos got 10 million views last year, so they got to watch themselves. It’s just a cool opportunity for them,” Rea said. “For these kids, TikTok and social media and stuff is everything for them. So to have the opportunity to be on a platform that does gain views and showcase their skills and stuff is very cool.”
However, Rea knew he wanted to make an impact on the team and deliver the best for them. He and the team’s board members talked about providing a new turf and upgrading the field entirely.
Rea turned to his social media platform to help fundraise and reach their $70,000 goal. Within 24 hours of posting his ad to social media, he raised $19,012. Jasper and the other board members were speechless by the quick response.
“I didn’t know how to react because it’s not every day where someone hands you $19,000 for a little league field,” Jasper said. “That doesn’t happen.”
“One day with $19,000 is amazing, and I’m grateful for each person that helped along the way cause they want to see things be better too,” Rea said.
The bond with the team caught the eye of head coach John Jasper. He recalled a moment when the team had a water balloon fight with Rea before a game. From then on, he knew he wanted to keep him around.
“My team hid in the dugout, and he didn’t know they were in the dugout hiding,” Jasper said. “They had this giant balloon fight right before the game to get into the championship. The interaction with him and the kids, I knew he needed to be involved with this going forward.”
Jasper then asked Rea to be the team’s new head coach for this summer season. Rea said it’s crazy to go from spectator to coach in one season, but he’s looking forward to coaching.
Rea plans to continue making their baseball skills better and teaching the kids life lessons that he’s learned from his time in jail. He’s proven a lot to himself by the good things he’s done post-jail. He serves as a board member for multiple organizations and brings good energy to everyone.
“It’s very easy to make a bad decision or a bad choice. You get emotional. You act out,” Rea said. “But at the end of the day, none of those things have to do define what you do moving forward. If you learn before it becomes a major issue, then you don’t have to go to prison to figure out.”
Jasper believes that the team is in good hands with Rea as the new coach. He’s looking forward to seeing the team this season.
“He’s a genuine guy,” Jasper said. “He’s a redemption story, and I’m pretty proud to call him my friend.”