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12th Jan 2023

Students hospitalised after football coach allegedly makes them do 400 pushups

Steve Hopkins

‘You trust that they will be cared for at the highest level’

A number of high school athletes were hospitalised and a coach has been suspended after he allegedly forced them do do hundreds of push-ups in an hour as punishment.

John Harrell, the football coach at Rockwall-Heath High School in Texas, is on administrative leave while an independent third party works out what took place during the incident, a letter sent to parents of students at the Texas school reads.

The incident is said to have taken place last Friday during an off-season football training session at the public school near Dallas and left a number of students needing medical treatment and “some” hospitalised.

The letter to parents, did not specify how many students were injured, or what caused them to require hospital treatment. However, local media reports suggest at least eight were sent to hospital.

The letter also advised parents to inform their students to see the trainer if they experience not being able to “bend or extend your arms, unable to lift arms above your head, dark urine (tea or cola-colored), and sharp arm pain,” as well as, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, confusion, or lethargy.

A parent of one of the hospitalised children later claimed that they were forced to do 300 push-ups in an hour without a break or any water. Other media reports suggest it was 400 press ups.

The anonymous parent told FOX4 they sent their kids to school “trusting that they will be cared for at the highest level. “That has been the case until this unfortunate event.”

The parent added that their child has been diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, which can be fatal or result in permanent disability.

Rhabdomyolysis is the consequence of injury to the sarcolemma (membrane) of skeletal muscle sufficient to allow leakage of cellular components into the blood and urine.  That can cause damage to the heart and kidneys.

Harrell was appointed the school’s head football coach around a year ago, although he has been involved in the program since 2019.

One of the school’s junior captains, Brady Luff, told LFAA  that the coach was not punishing the players, but trying to teach them some discipline.

“I’m praying for all the sides that are in the hospital. They’re my brothers,” he said.

“He’s treated us with nothing but respect and he loves every single one of us like his own.” Luff also claimed that water was available and players were free to leave should they wish.

His mother, Stephanie Luff, added: “So, if anything was going on with this situation that I thought these kids were being harmed, I would’ve been the first person up at the principal’s office or wherever I need to go to have this shut down.”

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