In filling its varsity baseball coaching vacancy, Lakeside High School didn’t have to look far.
Just two weeks after Jay Matthews resigned, the Panthers hired Brad Freeman, a former Evans High School baseball player who filled multiple roles at Lakeside during the 2012-13 school year.
“I was the JV coach here this past year, and to be honest I knew that Lakeside was a program that already had a good name for itself,” said Freeman, 26. “I threw my name in for the interview and got the job. It’s a great program and I just wanted to be a part of it, and when it came open I jumped all over it just because I wanted to keep the tradition going.”
Freeman will continue to teach 10th-grade English and be an assistant football coach. The Panthers are seeking a new varsity wrestling coach, also a slot he filled last year.
Lakeside Principal Steven Rhodes called Freeman a role model and is excited about what he brings to the program.
“His passion for baseball, coupled with his willingness to help each student succeed in baseball and in life, will certainly serve him well,” Rhodes said. “The road to the coaching position hasn’t been painless.”
While a freshman at Middle Georgia Junior College, Freeman was dragging a field when the rake he was carrying struck a fence post and hit him in the head, piercing his brain. He recovered, staying on at the school as a student assistant, but found he wanted to get back onto the field.
“I called Paine College and they allowed me to come out there and pitch and play infield for them for two years, so that’s where I finished up my playing career and college career,” Freeman said.
He coached football, wrestling and baseball at Josey High School for a year before heading to Lakeside last year.
He knows heading varsity baseball will be more involved than it was in the JV position, but he called the administration an unbelievable support system.
“It is going to be a big change, dealing with more stuff revolving around a budget, stuff like that, but at the same time I feel like I have a lot of people around me who are supportive and are going to do anything to help,” Freeman said.
He said Matthews wished him luck, as did his former high school coach Ricky Beale, whom he will face at least three times on the field in 2014.
“I think he’s going to do a great job,” Beale said. “I think he’s going to fit in. He definitely knows his stuff and he’s a hard worker. He’s a great guy.”
It will be a family affair for Freeman when the squads square off. His wife of one year, Wesslie, is the sister of Spencer Murray, who played for Beale at Evans last year, and Conner Murray, a rising junior for the Knights.
“She’s excited I got the job, but she’s also made it aware when her little brothers are in the picture, it’s going to be tough,” Freeman said.
“She’s going to have work on coordinating some colors for real.“