At least eight Rockwall-Heath High School (Heath, Texas) football players were reportedly hospitalized after an offseason workout last Friday in which players were forced to do up to 400 push-ups without water breaks.
Head coach John Harrell has been placed on administrative leave, according to Greg Riddle of the Dallas Morning News.
An unidentified Heath parent said her son was hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis, which Riddle defined as “a stress-induced muscle disorder that can damage cells and cause kidney damage and, in severe cases, failure.”
The player’s mother stated that her son was required to perform 300 to 400 pushups. Two other parents stated that their children were required to perform more than 350 pushups in a 60-minute period.
Furthermore, based on conversations with other parents, two Heath players’ parents said “at least eight” players were hospitalized.
Rockwall-Heath principal Todd Bradford stated in a letter on Tuesday that several students “required medical attention, and in some cases, hospitalization.” He stated that Harrell, who has been with the school since 2019 and was named head coach in 2022, has been placed on administrative leave while an investigation is conducted by a third party.
Brady Luff, a junior captain on the team, defended his coach in an interview with Fox 4’s David Sentendrey and Dan Henry.
“He’s treated us with nothing but respect, and he loves each and every one of us as if we were his own,” Luff said. Luff also stated that water was available and that players could leave at any time.
He also expressed gratitude to his teammates in the hospital.
“I’m praying for everyone who is in the hospital,” Luff said. “They’re like brothers to me.”
In a message to Fox 4, another parent painted a different picture.
“As parents, we send our children to school knowing that they will be well-cared for,” the parent explained. “That was the case until this unfortunate incident.”
The parent stated that her hospitalized child was required to do 300 pushups in an hour with no water or breaks.
Rockwall Intermediate School District athletic director Russ Reeves, according to Riddle, declined to comment. Furthermore, when asked for comment, Harrell did not respond.