Coming out of high school, the University of Wisconsin Green Bay’s Carolyn Freeman was just happy to participate in cross country skiing at the collegiate level.
As a high school senior she finished fourth in the state Nordic meet, not exactly the pre-requisite for becoming a collegiate All-American. However, then Wisconsin-Green Bay head coach Butch Reimer saw differently.
“When I went to college from high school I chose to ski because I really loved the sport,” said Freeman. “I never thought about the NCAA (Championships). It wasn’t even a goal, but Coach (Reimer) believed in me and told me I could make it. He was always pushing me to accomplish my next goal.”
Not only did Freeman make the NCAA Championships, but she did so for the first time as a sophomore. She finished 34th and 35th of 39 skiers in her two races at the 2009 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Skiing Championships. She qualified again as a junior and finished 32nd in the classic race and 17th in the 15k freestyle, less than a minute out of the top-10 and All-American status.
“I never thought I would make NCAAs, so when I did as a sophomore I was on cloud nine,” Freeman said. “As soon as it was over though I set new goals and I was able to make it back last year. Then after my results last year I set new goals and trained even harder.”
So after last season, Freeman dedicated herself to her sport even more, training even harder than she had in the past. However, this past October, Reimer, her biggest supporter and head coach of the past three years, passed away to leukemia.
“He was more than a coach, he was a friend,” Freeman said. “He was the person that I could talk with about anything. I still think about him every day.”
Her coach’s impact is still being felt as her performances this season have been nothing short of outstanding. She was an alternate for the U-23 United States National Team based on her showing at the U.S. Cross Country Championships, in addition to winning four races this winter. The regular season was capped off this past weekend when she won the classic race at the Central Region Championships by 24 seconds.
“Being an All-American would be a dream come true,” Freeman said. “It would mean so much for me to accomplish that for Coach (Reimer) and all the other people who have coached me over the years and supported me. There are some many people who believed in me from day one so to be able to reach that goal would really be a dream come true.”
Her current coach feels Freeman’s dreams are two weeks away from coming true at the NCAA Championships March 9-12 at Stowe, Vermont.
“I think this year’s NCAA champs for Carolyn is going to be one of a kind,” said Green Bay assistant coach Steve Teclaw. “Her previous showings at these races have been competitive, but this time she is ready to fully display her talents against the country’s fastest. Carolyn’s best weapon going into NCAAs is her fitness. She has trained through a disciplined training plan. Her endurance runs deep.”
Freeman will graduate in May with a degree in communications, but would like to stick with skiing for a little while longer.
“I am going to apply for the CXC Central Olympic Development program, and hopefully that will work out,” Freeman said. “I want to keep training and see how far I can go in skiing. At some point I would also love to coach whether it is at the high school or college level. Then I want to be a personal trainer or life coach and work with people to help them achieve their goals.”
Need to Know
• Dartmouth halted Vermont’s Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association (EISA) win streak at four after ousting the Catamounts by 12 points at the Middlebury Carnival. New Hampshire won the Nordic women’s sprint relay, while Dartmouth won the men’s sprint relay. Dartmouth’s Erika Flowers won the women’s 10k freestyle while teammate Eric Packer won the men’s 10k freestyle. In the alpine events, Vermont’s Kevin Drury swept the slalom and giant slalom while Dartmouth’s Annie Rendall won the slalom and Vermont’s Kate Ryley won the giant slalom. Vermont’s Kate Ryley missed the podium in the slalom, marking the first time all season that had happened.
• The CCSA released its all-conference teams. The women’s first team consisted of Raphaela Sieber (Alaska-Fairbanks), Carolyn Freeman (Green Bay), Theresia Schnurr (Alaska-Fairbanks), Christina Turman (Northern Michigan) and Marie Helen Soderman (Northern Michigan). The women’s second team consisted of Malin Eriksson (Michigan Tech), Monica Markvardsen (Northern Michigan), Alice Flanders (Michigan Tech), Elizabeth Simak (St. Cloud) and Paige Schember (St. Olaf).
The men’s first team consisted of Andy Liebner (Northern Michigan), Martin Banerud (Northern Michigan), John Parry (Alaska-Fairbanks), Erik Soderman (Northern Michigan) and Mikko Harju (Michigan Tech). The second team consisted of Ray Sabo (Alaska-Fairbanks), Alex Morris (Alaska-Fairbanks), Erik Soederstroem (Alaska-Fairbanks), Chris Bowler (Northern Michigan), Waylon Manske (St. Scholastica) and Jeremy Hecker (St. Scholastica).
The men’s coach of the year was Scott Jerome from Alaska Fairbanks, while the women’s coach of the year was Sten Fjeldheim of Northern Michigan.
• The CCSA has completed its regular season and the next action for its members will be the NCAA Championships in Stowe.
• The Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA) will close out its regular season with the conference and West Regional Championship on Feb. 25-26.