Emporia State hall of famer earns special award

September 4, 2012

A member of the Emporia State University Athletics Hall of Honor will receive the Pride of Kansas Award from the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Bill Freeman will be recognized at 6:45 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, at the Southern Coffey County High School football field in LeRoy, Kan. The award will be presented just before kickoff of the SCC game against Lebo High School.

The Pride of Kansas Award is given to Kansas coaches and athletes who achieved a lifetime of greatness on the field of competition while maintaining the highest level of integrity in positively influencing the lives of youth in the state,” said Ted Hayes, president and CEO of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. “Next to induction in the Hall of Fame, the Pride of Kansas Award is the highest honor given to a coach or athlete by the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.”

Freeman, who lives in LeRoy, is one of the most successful high school football coaches in the state of Kansas. Teams he coached at three different school won eight state titles in three different classifications. He coached for 36 years with a career records of 242-81-3. He served as head coach at Baxter Springs, Parker Rural, Nickerson, LeRoy, Osawatomie and Lawrence. Five of Freeman’s state football titles came with teams from Lawrence High School between 1974 and 1990. Osawatomie High School earned a state title under Freeman in 1973.

His two other state football titles are termed “mythical,” according to Hayes. They were selected by the media in years before the Kansas State High School Activities Association instituted a state football playoff system. Those two titles came at LeRoy in 1963 and Osawatomie in 1966.

Freeman coached several players who went on to play in the National Football League, including Lynn Dickey, Derrick Jensen, Jeff Wright, Bucky Scribner and Keith DeLong. Freeman also coached Lawrence High School track and field teams to 6A state titles in 1989 and 1990.

A Burlington, Kan., native, Freeman graduated from Emporia State University in 1953 and was inducted into the ESU Hall of Honor in 1996 as a four-year letterman at offensive guard for the Hornets between 1949 and 1953. Freeman also has been inducted into the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame — Jayhawk Chapter and the KSHSAA Hall of Fame.

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