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District: Sam Horrell Dismissed As Clayton Football Coach

The district says that while Horrell has been dismissed in connection with information that he was involved in strength and conditioning workouts with eighth graders, he will continue to teach at Clayton High School.

*Editor's note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled the last names of Wolfy Gaidis and Melina DeBona. This article has been updated to reflect the correct spellings.

students engaged in a demonstration Friday morning in opposition to the dismissal of football coach Sam Horrell.

The students held signs with the phrases “Bring back the coach,” “We want Horrell” and “Bring back coach Horrell.” They backed up the messages with chants of “bring back the coach” and “we want Horrell.” 

Earlier this week, Clayton High officials self-reported violations of the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) by-laws, a document provided by the states. The district took action “based on the results of a (lengthy) investigation into information that Horrell was involved in strength and conditioning workouts with eighth grade students who attend ,” the document states.

The document also states that “MSHSAA acknowledged that these actions were in violation of its by-laws and will make decisions on any necessary sanctions at its board meeting next month.”

Chris Tennill, communications director for Clayton schools, said the district made the decision to relieve Horrell based on the results of the investigation.  He also said Horrell will continue to teach at Clayton High. Horrell “was respected as a coach by his players and as a teacher by his students," Tennill said.

“This was a tough decision for us to make,” he said. “But this is not one we made on an isolated incident. It was a decision we felt we had to make to maintain the integrity of our athletic programs.”

The students involved in the demonstration gathered at approximately 10 a.m. and dispersed 15 minutes later. Horrell made an appearance five minutes into demonstration. He encouraged the demonstrators to return to class and also said he wasn’t able to comment on his dismissal. 

Under Horrell’s leadership, the Clayton Greyhounds went 8-4 and qualified for the playoffs in the 2010 season. Horrell said he started coaching at Clayton High 11 years ago and had spent the last six years as head coach.

Senior quarterback Chase Haslett said he organized the demonstration. Haslett also said he will attend the University of Illinois next year on a football scholarship.

“He (Horrell) bleeds more blue and orange than anyone in this school,” Haslett said. “He’s a great guy, and there’s no reason for him to be fired.”  

Senior football player Wolfy Gaidis* also attended the demonstration.

“We’re very, very upset right now,” Gaidis* said. “He’s one of the most influential people at this school, and he’s been demoted. We don’t like it. He’s had such a big impact on us. He made sure I had a family when I didn’t feel like I had a family. He’s put so much into this school.” 

Clayton High senior Melina DeBona*, a volleyball and soccer player, said Horrell was her climbing and physical education teacher. DeBona* called Horrell “a nice person who cares about students.”

Clayton athletic director Bob Bone could not be reached for comment.   

SGB May 06, 2011 at 08:42 PM
The article fails to make clear exactly what was problematic about him working out with 8th graders at the other school. Why is this against the rules? Without that information, this becomes a puff piece about Horrell and his fans, and tells me nothing about whether anything meaningful was at stake.
juliabui May 06, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Gaidis* DeBona* get it straight.
Nate Birt (Editor) May 06, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Thank you very much for bringing this to our attention. We regret the error. I've corrected the spellings of those two last names and have appended an editor's note alerting our readers.
Nate Birt (Editor) May 06, 2011 at 10:21 PM
Points well taken. We'll be following up on the specifics of the MSHSAA regulations at issue. In the meantime, I would recommend checking out Brett Auten's article in STLhighschoolsports.com (via stltoday.com): http://www.stltoday.com/sports/high-school/football/article_2d6bc2b2-7801-11e0-97fb-0019bb30f31a.html. It has additional details about this decision that might be helpful.
Cathie Horrell May 07, 2011 at 12:47 AM
This does not violate MSHSAA regulations, as I understand it. Coach Horrell was helping students and putting their safety and education first and foremost. A few seconds! Please. Soon the truth will come out. What is so bad here as a family involved in the Clayton community and school district for over thirty years, this is not who CHS is. What is meaningful at stake? The reputation of one of the most effective educators and leaders at this school. The demonstration speaks for those who know and have benefited from his leadership. And of Sam's character. He stands so much taller than the lesser lights who have dismissed him.
Neville May 07, 2011 at 12:47 AM
"The students involved in the demonstration gathered at approximately 10 a.m. and dispersed 15 minutes later." This statement is incorrect. After about 15 minutes the crowed walked over 10 blocks to the football field. The demonstration took about an hour and a half in all for the majority of demonstrators. A smaller, all football player group, went to the administrative building as well as to the school office to have a conference with the school principal, Dr. Louise Losos to try to get more information on what happened behind the scenes and who was going to be the new coach. Dr. Louise Losos said that the decision on the coaching problem will be announced monday.
Jonathon Schultz May 07, 2011 at 05:24 AM
just want to mention as a former player who was there for the invitational so called workouts as an incoming freshman. There was nothing that could possibly be considered an advantage over other teams through this one time workout. the exact events that occur is that Eighth graders interested in football are invited to a meeting with at the high school and are told about the program and then current players take these interested eighth graders to the weight room and show them technique in the 4 major lifts that football players do with just the 45 pound olympic bars. the Eight graders do one set of each lift doing 5 reps just to learn proper form. this could in no way create an advantage over any other team which is why these rules were originally instated.
Soledad May 07, 2011 at 01:10 PM
I agreee with the previous comment that you have not explained why the coach was in violation, whether these rules make sense or not, you haven't even quoted the bylaws. I read the by-laws of the MSHSAA and find it odd that a coach from the CHS could not work with kids at Wydown. We have a small district, it makes sense that we use our resources at different schools. You need to clarify why this would be an unethical thing to do. I dont' get it.

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