Bill Freeman inducted into Hall of Fame

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Sports

October 7, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Jennifer Nauertc figured she would hear from scores of well-wishers in the run-up to Sunday’s induction ceremony of her father, retired high school coaching great Bill Freeman, into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
But she wasn’t expecting a response like this.
“I have a list of people who have sent me stuff in the mail who I’ve never met,” Nauertc said. “It’s been pretty emotional.”
During his 36-year career, Freeman, now 83, finished with a 242-81-3 record, eight state football championships, including one with Le Roy High School, two state track and field titles and eventually saw five former players make it to the NFL.
Representing Freeman at Sunday’s ceremony were his three grandchildren, Tyler, Kaitlyn and Bryson Meats.
“That’s probably the only regret: they weren’t able to speak about their grandfather at the ceremony,” Nauertc said. “That, and I didn’t do this about three or four years ago.”
Freeman, 83, lives with Alzheimer’s and was unable to attend Sunday’s induction ceremony in Wichita.
“Deep down I think he knows about his award. I’ll take it up to him this weekend to show him to see if he remembers,” Nauertc said.
If not, she’ll bring several mementos back again. And again.
“Dad is such a humble man,” she said. “He never sought the limelight. But I’d bet he’s proud of this.”
Freeman’s teams won football titles in Osawatomie (2) and Le Roy (1) before the state playoff system was introduced in 1969. His heyday came as head coach at Lawrence High School, where his teams won five state championships between 1979 and 1989. Freeman also coached Lawrence High track and field teams to state titles in 1989 and 1990.
He coached future NFL players, including Lynn Dickey, a 1997 KSHOF inductee, Derrick Jensen, Jeff Wright, Bucky Scribner and Keith DeLong.
DeLong, who played professionally for the San Francisco 49ers, was scheduled to speak at Sunday’s ceremony but was unable to attend due to a family emergency.
Freeman also was a recipient of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame’s Pride of Kansas Award in 2012, and is an inductee in the Emporia State Athletics Hall of Fame.
Freeman grew up in Burlington. He moved to Le Roy after he retired from coaching. He owned the small bank in Le Roy and became the town’s mayor for 21 months, though he never accepted a salary, instead depositing his check into the town’s account.
He retired after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

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