Graeme Abel notched his third season as a member of head coach Matt Potter's coaching staff in 2014. Originally hired as an assistant in 2012, Abel was promoted to associate head coach during the 2013 offseason--a title granted to reflect Potter's confidence in Abel's ability as a coach at OU.
"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."
Abel's dedication came to light in 2014 as Oklahoma posted one of its best years ever between the goalposts. Redshirt freshman Kaitlyn Fahrner started 22 of OU's 23 matches on the campaign, logging over 2,000 minutes and earning a goals-agsinst average of 0.99. Fahrner became just the second starting goalkeeper in program history to post a GAA below one, while her six solo shutouts were the most for OU since 2010.
Reshirt sophomore Kassidie Stade also played almost 200 minutes on the campaign, posting a 0.48 GAA and a shutout in her only start of the season against Oral Roberts. Between Stade and Fahrner, OU's 0.94 GAA was the second-best in program history.
In his first season as the associate head coach in 2013, Abel's continued guidance with the goalkeepers helped lead the team to four shutouts. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Kassidie Stade improved throughout the season to record at least five saves in seven of her last nine matches and a career-high seven saves in three matches, finishing the season with 67 saves.
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.)
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 2010 and 2011 campaigns, Abel worked with the Cougar goalkeepers and Potter at Washington State.
"To have a coach of Graeme's caliber speaks to the ambition of the program we are trying to build here at the University of Oklahoma." Potter said at Abel's hiring. "Graeme has familiarity with the University and within the state, and has established ties in the region.
"He is an outstanding coach with an expertise in goalkeeping. He has the background, pedigree and track record to show he can develop student-athletes on and off the field. He has performed on the highest of stages and coached at the national team level."
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.
"It's exciting to come back to OU and I'm looking forward to helping Matt push the program on to new heights and achievements," said Abel. "I'd like to thank Matt for allowing me such an opportunity. My time with him at Washington State was extremely enjoyable and I'm both eager and excited to replicate such an environment here in Norman."
Before Oklahoma and Washington State, Abel worked three years as Nevada's goalkeepers coach. With Abel on staff, Nevada enjoyed 30 wins and three straight trips to the Western Athletic Conference tournament, including the 2006 WAC Championship and the program's only NCAA tournament appearance in 2006. In addition, Abel's pupils anchored a Nevada defense that recorded 23 shutouts in three seasons (Nevada had three in program history prior to his arrival). He also handled aspects relating to compliance and recruiting with the soccer program.