Born: January 28, 1931 (Burlington, KS)
Graduated: Burlington High School, 1949; Emporia State University, 1953
Deceased: December 18, 2015
Few coaches in Kansas high school history could boast the resume of Coach Bill Freeman. A high school coach for the better portion of four decades, Freeman claimed eight state football championships and two state track championships.
Bill Freeman was born in Burlington, Kansas, in 1931 and had the game of football in his blood at an early age. Graduating from Burlington High School in 1949, Freeman signed on to play football at Emporia State University, where he was a four year letterman for the Hornets. He graduated from Emporia State in 1953.
Early Coaching Career
Although he loved to play the game, it was coaching it where Freeman made his mark.
Freeman’s coaching career began at Baxter Springs High School in 1953 before he was named the head football and track coach at Parker Rural High School in 1954. Freeman coached Parker Rural for three years and following short stints at Nickerson and Midland College in Nebraska, again serving as both the head coach for football and track, he landed at LeRoy High School in LeRoy, Kansas.
While at LeRoy, Freeman’s coaching style began to produce results. Freeman’s LeRoy squad claimed a mythical state title, so called because there were no playoffs in Kansas high school football at the time. In 1965, Freeman took his coaching talent to Osawatomie High School, where he coached 1997 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame quarterback Lynn Dickey. The Trojans claimed two state championships under Freeman in 1966 and 1973.
Freeman in Lawrence
In 1974, Freeman was tabbed as the next head football coach of one of the most successful football programs in Kansas high school history: Lawrence High School. Following the retirement of 2003 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Al Woolard, the Lions were struggling to rebuild. Freeman was the man for the job and returned Lawrence High School to prominence within just five short years, winning his first state title in Lawrence in 1979. Freeman followed that early success with four more state championships in 1984, 1986, 1987, and 1989. For his career, Freeman’s football teams claimed a total of eight state championships.
The success also paid off on the track, as Freeman coached the Lawrence High track squad to two state championships in 1989 and 1990.