REIDSVILLE, Ga. (WSAV) — Tattnall County High School (TCHS) head football coach Isaac Ferrell has been fired from his position. It comes nearly three weeks after he held a Christian baptism for some of his players after practice.
Twenty players were baptized by Pastor Gary Few in a ceremony after practice on Oct. 23 behind the high school football field at the behest of Ferrell, who is still employed in the Tattnall County School District (TCSD) as a teacher.
Latifa Johnson’s son is a sophomore on the football team and was one of the athletes baptized that day.
“I was extremely proud of him because he made the decision on his own. I didn’t have to hold his hand, and he did it because he wanted to do it,” Johnson told News 3.
She says she found out from a Facebook post from the football team.
“It was so sweet because you see the boys and they looked like they wanted it,” said Johnson, “You know, like everyone looked excited, from the ones I was able to see. So was cheering thank you, God. Yes, yes, yes. I was all for it.”
The reaction to the ceremony has not been all positive, with the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) denouncing the ceremony in an article, saying it’s illegal under the First Amendment.
As for whether the baptisms led to Ferrell’s termination, that is unclear.
TCSD Superintendent Kristen Waters tells News 3 in a statement he was terminated following an incident after a football game on Nov. 3, and that the district is looking for a coach that aligns with the best interests of Tattnall County students:
“The safety and security of our students is paramount to Tattnall County Board of Education. Based on the outcome of an investigation into an incident that occurred Friday night, November 3rd while traveling after the football game, the District decided that it would seek a Head football coach that aligned with the best interests of the students of Tattnall County for the 2024-2025 school year. As to any other allegations, the District does not comment during ongoing investigations.”
Johnson says she and her son are heartbroken by Coach Ferrell’s termination, saying his faith made him a good role model.
“What about the ones who do believe? Why should they miss out on a spiritual leader because someone doesn’t agree? It takes a village to raise children,” Johnson explained.
Chris Line, attorney for the FFRF also sent News 3 a statement following Ferrell’s termination:
“We are glad they are looking for a new coach who will abide by his constitutional duties.”