Passing of Jackie Freeman
A great many of you may not have known Jackie Freeman, head coach of the Indians (when they really were the Indians!), and one of the Reservation's best athletes ever. His passing this week, along with coach Jim Root, is a sad one--no finer man could ever be found.
In these days of coaches reigning like emperors, drinking and carousing with prostitutes, etc., Freeman and Root would seem outmoded. For they represented everything decent, moral, and dedicated.
Jackie Freeman, who stood just over 5'6'', came out of a tough steel town in Pennsylvania and became one of W&M's greatest three-sport athletes...
excelling in football, basketball and baseball. He started every game for all four years (1940-41-42-46) in all three sports (he played in 1946 after three years in combat during WWII).
In football he played on some of William and Mary's finest teams including the 1942 Southern Conference champions that beat Navy, Oklahoma,
Dartmouth and tied Eastern Champion, Harvard. That team won 9 games, tied 1, and lost only to a miltary team made up of NFL stars, North Carolina Pre-Flight. In 1946, Freeman--a two way blocking qb in the single wing and a defensive back as well as the punter in all four of his years at W&M--was a sparkplug on an 8-2 team that beat Maryland, Wake Forest and NC State among others.
Despite his 5-6 height Freeman started on four winning basketball teams
that defeated many teams including North Carolina, Virginia, Seton Hall,
Cincinnati, Maryland, and NC State. In baseball, Jack averaged over 300
for his four years as a starting infielder.
While he had the misfortune to coach W&M after the big academic scandal, as coach of the fabled "Iron Indians" of 1953, he received permanent acclaim at W&M (and was even featured in a Life Magazine story) for producing a winning season with a squad of only 24 players--of which only 18 played with regularity. That team defeated Wake Forest,
N.C. State, and Virginia Tech while tying undefeated Navy in a 5-4-1 season.
The final game, a loss to Boston University in Williamsburg, saw a depleted Indian team, down to 13 players, play three fraternity football league players in that game just to get eleven men on the field.
Jack loved William and Mary. and--while working and then retiring in Lexington, Va--could always be seen at W&M games every season right on up to 2001.
He was a tough guy with a heart of gold. Whenever he met new people he
would always tell them how lucky he was to have been plucked out of the coal mines by Carl Voyles and ended up at "one of the finest colleges in the world...a place I didn't even think existed back in the coal mines"
To his wife, Jane (a W&M grad that Jackie met on campus while a student)
and his family, we'll never forget Jackie.