COLLIERVILLE, TN (abc24.com) - A Collierville coach says he was out of line for a profanity-laced pep talk before a high school football game.
Shawn Abel's been coaching at Collierville for 17 years. He resigned after his recent team meeting hit YouTube. Abel wanted his team to work together. That's what he says was behind his anger-filled rant to his team.
A player posted the two minute team meeting on YouTube, two minutes that have now changed Abel's entire life.
"I was trying to motivate the players and my methods were entirely wrong," Abel tells abc24.com. "I'd love to go back and not do it."
A humbled Abel resigned from his position as head coach. Now he's on paid administrative leave from his precalculus teaching position with Shelby County Schools.
"Sometimes it doesn't matter if you promote 25 years worth of kids academically," says Abel, "teaching them trigonometry or developing algebra skills. Sometimes it only takes something like this to bring it crashing down."
Despite the backlash, there are plenty of people who support Abel. Greg Greenlee lives across the street and considers the coach a wonderful neighbor and friend.
"It would be something," says Greenlee, "if we all had jobs where every mistake we made went in the paper. I feel for these coaches."
Hundreds of people have signed up on a Facebook page supporting the coach, even former players writing about how they needed his passion on the field. But Abel says he understands why others have a problem with his choice of words.
"There are more important things we're trying to teach the kids," he says, "especially at this age, and there are a lot of things I do well in the classroom, even on the field. There are some things that I do not do well. That day was not one of my finer moments."
Abel isn't making excuses, only expressing regrets and apologies. His attention now is on his family and the kids in the classroom, where he hopes to return.
"It's hard to convince people who are not in sports that there is a major separation between what a coach does on the field and what a classroom teacher does," he says. "I have five classrooms in the day, and when you go to the practice field you have to turn things on and off. I try to do that, I feel like, with the exception of that occasion, I felt like I do a good job."
Abel tells abc24.com as soon as he yelled at his players he was remorseful.
The majority of his salary is from teaching, not coaching. He's unsure if he will coach again.
A spokesperson with Shelby County Schools says this is a personnel issue and the district has not made a decision on what action to take.