Students Hospitalized After Football Coach Made Them Do 400 Push-Ups

Students Hospitalized After Football Coach Made Them Do 400 Push-Ups Rockwall ISD

A high school football coach has landed himself in hot water after he reportedly ordered students to perform 400 push-ups. John Harrell has been placed on leave from Rockwall-Heath High School after he pushed the football team to do excessive exercise over the course of an hour as a form of punishment during an off-season training session.

The incident, which happened on Friday, January 6, reportedly left eight students requiring hospitalization, per the Dallas Morning News. One mother, who refused to be named, claimed John Harrell made the members of the football team do between 300 to 400 push-ups but did not allow them to take water breaks. Her son was later hospitalized and diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis.

While it hasn’t been revealed what the other seven students were diagnosed with, it’s clear that they suffered damage from the coach’s actions. However, many players defended Harrell claiming that he was only trying to teach the athletes discipline rather than to cause them harm.

“He’s treated us with nothing but respect and he loves every single one of us like his own,” team member Barry Luff told WFAA. He added that Harrell stayed at the hospital “all night with those boys” because he was so concerned about their health, adding, “He would never make us do a workout thinking that it was going to put any of us at risk.”

John Harrell is on leave from the football team and the school

Once the school caught wind of what happened, Harrell was placed on leave immediately.

“Please know the district immediately implemented measures to address the situation and provide support for our students,” a letter from the school read. “The district is also taking interim action, including but not limited to, placing Coach Harrell on administrative leave while the investigation is pending and notifying appropriate outside agencies. District administrators and campus personnel have been in contact with the affected families and student-athletes.”

John Harrell has worked at Rockwell-Heath High School since 2019 and has been the head football coach for the past year. An investigation is ongoing.

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill