Okay, so you’ve seen him from a distance on the football sidelines, and you’ve seen him up close and personal on the basketball sidelines, but just who is Coach Grant Freeman anyway? I mean, does anybody even know what his daddy does for a living? Not being from Comanche, Grant probably doesn’t even know just how important that is around here.
Luckily, here at United we do know, and I recently took the time to sit down with the tall guy, the assistant football coach and head boys basketball coach, and ask some of these very questions.
It seems that the man the Comanche Indians call Coach Freeman was born and reared just down the road in San Angelo, Texas where his dad was a basketball coach and his mom a kindergarten teacher. According to Freeman, “I learned to finger paint and play basketball,” and after spending an hour with the man, I think that is a perfect analogy to describe the inner Freeman.
The elder Freeman was the basketball coach at San Angelo Central before moving across town to Lake View, where his son, Grant, was one of his players. In the three years that he played there, the team won district two of those years, eventually winning its way to the regional quarterfinals. Pretty impressive considering that Lake View had only been to the first round of the playoffs once in the school’s history.
“I wasn’t the most gifted player, but I was always with my dad, and I guess I gained an understanding of the game from the sidelines…even before I was playing myself. However, the most important thing I learned from my dad is that winning actually has nothing to do with the final score. Winning has to do with kids, not scores.”
Of course, Freeman does acknowledge that the two go hand in hand, and that is pretty much the philosophy he brought with him into the world of coaching, first at his old alma mater, Lake View, then Spring Town, and ultimately Comanche, bringing with him his wife, Hillary and their two children, Jordan (6) and Jaxson (2).
Of course, I had to ask, “Why Comanche?” Don’t get me wrong; I love the town, but I also know that there were some negatives to be considered, and I wanted to know just why it was that Coach Freeman decided on us. As it turns out, it wasn’t Comanche per se that Freeman wanted. No, it was a chance to work with Athletic Director Stephen Hermesmeyer that was the drawing card.
“He and I run our programs alike, and we’re just a good match. Our philosophies are very similar, and I really wanted to work for him. He’s a great mentor and a great friend, and he has taught me so much. My wife, Hillary, and I view coaching as a ministry, and we love the kids and the people that are here.
“The kind of kids that we have here fit what I’m trying to do. They are hard nosed, and they give 100% all of the time. I love to coach them.”
“So what did you do differently this year that made you more successful than last year?” I asked.
“You know, it’s funny. We ended up with basically the same record that we had last year; we just went three rounds deeper. I really didn’t do anything differently from last year. The kids just understood it better.
“I spent a lot of time challenging them….discussing what it takes to go from good to great. I believe I did challenge them more than I did last year, setting goals that we really wanted to achieve. We took a big step toward moving from good to great, and we talked about being good men with high character, being good teammates.
“Next year, we will begin to deal with standards, the standards we have established these past two seasons. We don’t accept anything less than being competitive. Being in the playoffs will be our standard, not just a goal.”
Freeman went on to explain that life is hard, and we all have those times when we are down, and yet we have bills to pay, a family to feed, children who are counting on us. The same will be true of the young men he coaches.
“They can either sit down and quit, or they can get up and go to work, take care of their families, and be good men. We’re learning to be good men. I’m gonna love ‘em hard, and I’m gonna coach ‘em hard. My real victories are gained when I get invited to a wedding, or I get a birth announcement, or someone calls to say he just got his first job!”
And when I asked Coach Freeman to leave me with some type of a summation, he replied, “At the end of the day, I get to coach basketball for a living. I get to be around the kids that I love and the sport that I love. What could be more fun than that?”
What could be more fun than that? The only thing that I can think of might be having a son involved in the kind of program Freeman is building in Comanche…now that sounds like fun!