This fella here is Ben Freakley. For those of you who have had the opportunity to hear the a long version of my Christian journey, this is “the roommate” who came back from Texas all fired up about Jesus to live in a party house with 5 other college guys and “needed a ride” to church every Sunday. Thanks to this guy (and God’s grace) I got hooked up with some people who really helped me learn what it means to live a life committed to Christ. For that reason, he has always had a special place in my heart.
Well, over the years our paths drifted and I have tried to keep tabs on him from time to time. Today, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I discovered that he was named the head coach for the VMI (Va. Military Institute) mens soccer team. I am so proud of him…
I have not met many people who love the game of soccer as much as this guy. In college Ben attempted to walk-on for the GSU soccer team and was cut 2 times (might have been 3)… but he was passionate and tenatious and, despite the jokes from his friend (me included), he continued to work hard and eventually the coach asked him to join the squad. After a solid playing career, Ben was asked to join the coaching staff at GSU as he worked on his masters in sports management. From there Ben went on to be an assistant coach at Univ of South Carolina. Then he got his big break to take the head coaching job at Erskin (a small Presbyterian DivII school). When he got there he didn’t have much to work with and I believe he recruited something like 16 freshmen his first year. It was amazing the work he did in such a short time there. There is no doubt that he took his passion and knowledge of the game and poured it into those young men. In his second year, even with such a young team, there was a dramatic improvement.
So, now he is off to VMI and I am thrilled for him. On the school website Ben is quoted as saying, “VMI has such a great history and reputation of building tomorrow’s leaders. I believe soccer is another avenue of teaching the values of leadership, honor and integrity, which is a philosophy that I follow as a coach.” No doubt, this in not a PR major (he’s also the reason I changed my major to PR) just saying the right thing… he really means it, and that, I have no doubt, is what makes him a great coach.
So, what is the lesson to learn from coach freakley… Don’t quit, even when you’re laughed at. Work hard, have honor, have integrity… be passionate… and be willing to be a person that changes other people’s lives (personally, I’m glad ben was).