Embattled former Collierville coach reacts to secret recording

Shawn Abel (Source: www.chsdragonfootball.com)
Shawn Abel (Source: www.chsdragonfootball.com)

(WMC-TV) - After less than two seasons in charge, Collierville High School football head coach Shawn Abel resigned from his post Monday after a two-minute, expletive-laden pre-game rant was secretly recorded and posted YouTube.

Click here to listen to the recording (Warning: Strong language)

Abel's rant started last Thursday night, when one of his players asked a friend from another school to tape his ankles before Collierville's game with Wooddale. According to the players, several people recorded the expletive filled rant on their cell phones. One player posted it on YouTube.

The video was later deleted.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Abel discussed his decision to resign, and the secret recording that led him to do so.

"You never know when someone's gonna be dressed in a uniform and sneak a cell phone that you can't see, and record what you say," he said. "I'm kind of an old-school football guy, and I believe in the sanctity of the locker room. You know, if I reported everything in the locker room, half those kids would be in trouble everyday."

Regardless, Abel said there is no excuse for what happened.

"Obviously I used very poor judgment in what I said and in the language I used," he said. "It was an attempt to get the kids motivated for a football game, and I did it completely incorrectly, and I do apologize to the parents and players and the community that I represent."

Abel expressed regret for what happened.

"I should be more mature than that to let my frustrations get the better of me. But it looks like that's what happened," he said.

Monday night, Action News 5 spoke to several football players from Collierville who did not want to be identified.

"It wasn't a pep talk and it wasn't getting you ready for a game," one player said. "It was a cussing, screaming psycho."

The players said it was not Abel's first rant this year. Abel has coached at Collierville for more than 24 years, becoming head varsity coach last year.

"He was one of my biggest role models," one player said. "I looked up to the man probably more than any other coach that I had."

But the players we spoke with said almost everyone on the team wanted Coach Abel to leave.

"I think I speak for the other teammates when I say he's completely taken my passion and spirits for the game and completely driven them out," one player said.

But while current players say Abel crossed the line, former players say he was just doing his job.

"Coaches are there to push you and motivate you to do better," former player Ben Pellitteri said. "They're there to make them better."

"My father taught me growing up if they aren't yelling at you, that means they don't really care," former player Jacob Hunter added.

Currently, Abel's future is up in the air.

"Right now, I'm not sure what's going to happen to him, but I feel that he needs to be teaching and he needs to be coaching football at Collierville," former player Andrew Richmond said.

Collierville's high school football team went on the field after the tirade and lost to Wooddale by a score of 28 to 25.

Click here to listen to the recording (Warning: Strong language)

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