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High School Football

Cardinal Spellman football coach Kahn Chace says harassment by parents caused him to resign

Cardinal Spellman High School football coach Kahn Chace resigned Friday after what he described as a series of public harassment incidents by parents that made him feel unsafe, disrespected, and uncomfortable about bringing his family to games.

Chace, 37, who has coached high school football for 19 years with stops at Holbrook/Avon, Oliver Ames, and Tri-County, reached his breaking point, he said, following Thursday’s 34-3 loss to Bishop Fenwick. He said parents and spectators yelled obscenities at him and his staff from behind a fence.

He submitted his resignation letter Friday and Spellman accepted.

“Obviously it’s a hard decision to make, but it’s something that builds up over time,” Chace said. “There’s a boiling point where it’s unacceptable to be treated that way with the time and effort we put into this. To get disrespected and yelled at, it’s unacceptable.”

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Spellman released a statement, saying, “We appreciate Coach Chace’s service to the Spellman Athletic Department, and we wish him well in his future endeavors. Our priority is to stabilize the program on an interim basis, by working with the existing coaching staff.”

Four of Chace’s assistants — Ryan Donovan, Jequan Johnson, Dan Lewis, and Scott Tucker — will take over on an interim basis. The football team is 2-3 this season.

Chace was hired at Spellman in July 2021 to replace Ron St. George. He said the harassment began last season, when the Cardinals went 3-8 and parents directed foul language toward him from the stands.

Chace said he was escorted from the sidelines or would sneak out the back gate to get to the locker room and avoid situations.

“That’s just getting old,” said Chace. “It’s just blatant screaming at the coaches while they are talking to the team. If there wasn’t a fence there, I’d worry about my safety.”

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At some games, the yelling would get so intense and out of control that Chace’s family would leave at halftime. Chace said he never encountered any parental problems at Holbrook/Avon, Oliver Ames, or Tri-County, or during his tenure as the Oliver Ames wrestling coach.

“In the 17 years before Spellman, I can’t count one time I had a parent publicly disrespect me and my fellow coaches,” said Chace. “Not one time in those communities. This has happened several times at this school.”

Chace said some of his assistants are leaving with him, but he urged some to stay. He knew he made the right decision, he said, when his fellow coaches and his wife agreed with it.

“When people I lean on for advice agreed with me, I knew it was the right decision,” said Chace. “I know that other coaches throughout the state in different circumstances have similar feelings.”