Oklahoma soccer head coach Matt Potter announced this week that assistant coach Graeme Abel has been promoted to associate head coach for the 2013 season. Abel will remain in charge of coaching the goalkeepers at OU while continuing to aid with player development and multiple other administrative duties in the program.
"Coach Abel continues to be a loyal and committed coach and true friend," Potter said upon Abel's promotion. "He is an exceptional role model for our student-athletes and continues to make those around him better. As a head coach, you hope to create a team or staff that can push you to new levels, serve as an example and pursue excellence alongside you. Graeme ticks all those boxes for us."
A native of Liverpool, England, Abel returned to Norman in 2012 as an assistant after serving as the OU goalkeeper coach during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. During the 2012 season, Abel's work with the goalkeepers resulted in a record-breaking season for senior Kelsey Devonshire. Under Abel's guidance, Devonshire recorded a trio of shutouts and 101 saves in her final season as a Sooner, placing her second all-time in shutouts (17 career) and first in saves (390 career).
"To have our athletic administration recognize and endorse my thoughts speaks to their commitment to support and retain the best individuals for our program and student-athletes," Potter said.
Prior to his return to Oklahoma, Abel worked with the Cougar goalkeepers and Potter at Washington State during the 2010 and 2011 campaigns.
In 2011, Washington State enjoyed one of its best seasons in program history with Potter at the helm and Abel working with the goalkeepers. The Cougars won 12 games a year ago and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, anchored by a defense that limited the opposition to one goal or less in 20 of the 23 games played. In addition, freshman goalkeeper Gurveen Clair posted seven of the team's nine shutouts last season with a 0.74 goals-against average. The nine shutouts ranks fourth all-time at Washington State and even more impressive, six of the shutouts came in Pac-12 play, a conference that produced the 2011 NCAA National Champion in Stanford.
In 2008, Abel made his first trek to Norman to help then-head coach Nicole Nelson reestablish the program. In addition to working with the OU goalkeepers, Abel also assisted with the program's recruiting efforts and helped recruit several of the Sooners on the current roster. Also while on the OU staff, Abel worked a camp with the Under-20 U.S. Women's National Team in 2009, while also working with the Region III Olympic Development Program.
A 2004 graduate of Brescia University, Abel resides in Norman with his wife, Katie.