Freeman represents ASU with class
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
When Freeman’s image was put on posters and advertisements promoting Appalachian State athletics, she became the face of the entire ASU athletic department.
Her image was on everything, from posters around campus to billboards in the western part of the state.
“Obviously it’s flattering,” Freeman, an elementary education major, said. “It gets a little bit awkward when people are coming up and saying, ‘Hey, I saw you on the football field.’ OK, cool. Then they put it up in the education department where all my classes are, so I got to awkwardly walk past it every day.”
Freeman was flattered, but also felt a sense of responsibility that comes with it. Freeman said being known as a symbol of Appalachian State’s athletic department that is seen by thousands of people comes with a price.
“ I think taking on that responsibility keeps me in check,” Freeman said. “Not that I’m going to make a mistake, but it reminds me that I representing somebody bigger than myself. I’m representing my family and I enjoy that.”
The campaign struck Freeman by surprise.
“ I walked in to get my picture taken for something else and they said, ‘Hey, do you want to see this massive poster of you that they had of me?’ I was like, ‘Cool.’”
It’s easy to see why Freeman was chosen to represent the program. She’s a four-year starter for every game — that’s 129 in all — the Mountaineers have played during her four seasons at ASU.
That includes four WNIT games and four WBI Tournament games.
She also helped resurrect a program, coached by Darcie Vincent, that did not finish higher than sixth place since the Linda Robinson era.
While a lot has changed at Appalachian State as far as players coming and leaving, Freeman has been a constant in the ASU lineup.
“It comes with a lot of pressure, because they don’t just put anybody up there,” Freeman said. “But I love Appalachian and I take it as a total compliment. I appreciate what they’ve given me.”
Freeman is not a flashy player, but is one of the most productive players in the program’s history. Just this season, Freeman led the SoCon in scoring with 16.6 points per game.
Freeman has been named first-team All-Southern Conference for three seasons. She was in the middle of Appalachian State’s return to the top of the SoCon standings. That included back-to-back SoCon regular season championships.
If it has to do with women’s basketball, Freeman is likely to either achieved it, won it or played a key role in making it happen.
There is one thing Freeman has not done — gone to the NCAA Tournament.
Freeman, a senior, gets one more chance at that beginning at 2:15 p.m. Saturday in Asheville. The Mountaineers, the No. 4 seed, plays College of Charleston at Kimmel Arena on the UNC Asheville campus.
It’s a chance for the Mountaineers to get to the NCAA Tournament. The Mountaineers reached the finals the past two seasons, but were beaten by Samford both times.
Samford also beat ASU in the 2010 semifinals in Freeman’s freshman season.
This season’s been more difficult for the Mountaineers. They go into the game with a 19-9 overall record, 14-6 in the SoCon, which was good for fourth place in the SoCon standings.
Freeman knows that expectations are high, even though the Mountaineers struggled against the better teams in the SoCon. She’d rather the expectations be high instead of low. High expectations are a sign of the improvements made in the program during her four seasons.
“I’m excited. This is what you play for. This is what you’ve dreamed of when you’re five-years old. This is our last shot and we’re going to give it all we’ve got.”
Freeman was a member of one of the top recruiting classes play women’s basketball at ASU in over a decade.
She averaged 10.5 points per game and led the Mountaineers with 8.4 rebounds and 92 blocked shots that season. Freeman chose Appalachian State over several other schools, including rival Elon, where her father, Billy Freeman, went to college.
Her mother, Jane Freeman, attended Appalachian State. Her father quickly embraced ASU once his daughter agreed to sign her letter of intent.
“He is a die-hard Appalachian fan now,” Freeman said.
Freeman was seventh in the SoCon in scoring her sophomore season with 14.2 points per game and was named first team all-conference. She was named Player of the Year by the SoCon media her junior year after leading the conference in scoring with 18 points per game, and became the 21st player in ASU history to score 1,000 points.
She’s done playing for Vincent, a demanding coach who shook up the Mountaineers’ program and delivered a winning team. Vincent can be tough to play for, but Freeman said it’s been worth it, though it was much different from the laid back style of her high school coach Terry Allmon.
“It’s an adjustment,” Freeman said. “Obviously college basketball isn’t what you see on T.V every day. There’s a lot of sweat and a lot of tears and a lot of blood that goes into it, but I wouldn’t change anything for the world.”
Freeman and Vincent have shared big moments the last four seasons. The two regular season championships stand out, as does ASU’s win over Conference USA foe Memphis in the finals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament in her freshman season.
Appalachian State’s victory over N.C. State in the second round of the 2012 WNIT at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh also has special significance to Freeman. A Thomasville native and East Davidson graduate, Freeman grew up a Wolfpack fan.
“That was awesome. That was where I won the state championship by junior year in high school, so I have very fond memories of that gym,” Freeman said. “I had been going to that gym all my life to watch those games. It was like coming full circle that I’m at that level with those girls that I was watching play.”Freeman proved over four years that she's at the same level as any of her past opponents. Her own athletic department certainly thinks so.