Wellington football coach Tom Abel steps down to seek position in Georgia

Adam Lichtenstein, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·3 min read

After nine seasons, Tom Abel has resigned from his position as Wellington’s football coach, according to Abel and Wolverines athletic director Bobby Callovi.

“Great community, good school, obviously it’s been good to me for a long time,” Abel said. “I thought I was going to be there forever. That was the ultimate goal. But things change, and it’s time to step down and move on.”

Abel said he is looking for a new coaching job in Georgia. Georgia has been a common destination for South Florida coaches seeking new positions. Former Coconut Creek coach Kareem Reid, former Suncoast coach Bobby May and former Palm Beach Central coach Tino Ierulli are among those who have had success coaching South Florida teams before finding new jobs in Georgia.

Abel said he is going to Georgia this weekend for interviews.

“It’s been a struggle for years down here in this county,” Abel said. “Thank God my wife is a teacher, too, because if I was a single guy, I probably wouldn’t have been able to survive. Not only is the teaching pay a little bit better, but they take care of coaches and the program and everything like that. The facilities are second to none, and just the pay [is better].

“It’s not really the pay to me. It’s just caring about athletics. We’ve got great athletes in the county. We just need to make sure that these coaches and everything are taken care of, because it’s a 12-month-out-of-the-year job.”

The yearly stipend for a Palm Beach County high school football coach is $4,532. Like in Florida, Georgia coaches’ pay varies by area, but stipends for head coaches often exceed $10,000, and 44 had salaries of more than $100,000 in the 2017-18 school year, according to a 2019 report by First Coast News.

Abel took over a Wellington program that hadn’t had a winning season in years and had gone 11-21 in the three seasons prior. Over nine seasons, Abel compiled a 50-46 record at Wellington, winning district titles in 2014 and 2016 and earning trips to the playoffs in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. Wellington went 2-4 in those playoff appearances.

In a pandemic-altered 2020 season, the Wolverines went 3-4 and earned a spot in the Class 8A Tri-County Silver bracket.

“I’m very blessed to have such great buy-in from the people in the community, have such great buy-in from the players and all the coaches that have been with me in my coaching tree,” Abel said. “There’s numerous, numerous coaches all around the county, coaching at other schools, that I’m very, very proud of that are working extremely hard.

“Without all them, and, mainly, without all the players who believed in what we were doing and see that could be winners — not just on the field, because when you achieve success in the classroom and your life and you work hard through all the stuff, then results come on the field.”

Callovi said the school is looking to hire a new coach before the start of Palm Beach County’s spring break, which begins on March 13.

Wellington is the third Palm Beach County public school with a football coaching vacancy. Brian Coe stepped down from his position at Santaluces, and Keith Chattin is out as John I. Leonard’s head coach.