Freeman trying to put South track back in blocks

May 16, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Dwayne Freeman is feeling the tingle again.

It's that tingle that comes when competitive juices are flowing.

It's that tingle that comes from running a race against time and opponents.

It's that tingle that comes from striving for success.

It's all the same in a different kind of way. Twenty years ago, that feel came from running sprints.

Today, it comes from taking on a strategic marathon.

Twenty years ago, Freeman was starting out as a multisports athlete at South Hagerstown High School. His passion was football, but his inherited love was track. He excelled at both to the point where he competed while getting his college education.

And even though it all didn't totally work out as he had dreamed, this lap around the track led to a career choice that he loves. When running track, it's difficult not to come full circle.


Now, Freeman is back where it all started. He's standing on the tracks of Washington County, getting that itch again. But this time, the scratch will come from recreating what once was.

Freeman is using his spare time from being a newlywed and a member of the Hagerstown City Police force to bring the South Hagerstown track program full circle - back to the successful days when he competed.

"I can't tell you the feeling there is to come back and take over at the school where you had some success," Freeman said. "I got the call from some coaches that I have known for some time. They said there is a vacancy and asked me to come interview I started in March."

The rush of different feelings was inevitiable.

Freeman graduated in 1988 as a football standout and basketball player for the Rebels. But what he still is remembered for is his exploits in the spring, performing for the South track team.

Those days are memories for him, but stand as standards for every track athlete since then to be measured.

Freeman holds all-time county records in the 100, the long jump and the triple jump. He is still tied for South Hagerstown's records in the 100 and 200, as a member of the 800 and 1,600 relay teams and owns the marks in the long jump and triple jumps.

Those benchmarks of success give Freeman the basis and belief that he can help bring South Hagerstown back to prominence some day.

"I'm the third coach in three years for a lot of these kids," Freeman said. "It is tough for the upperclass kids to believe in what I'm doing, but the underclassmen have a starting point.

"I'm not a disciplinarian, but there are some things that my coach, Harrison Lanham, wanted and expected from me. I'm doing the same with this team."

Now, this project is not a sprint. It's a marathon.

The first step for Freeman is remembering what track was to him when he got started.

"I was just out back then to get ready for fall sports," Freeman said. "But once I got a taste of it well, I was hooked."

The hook came from personal accomplishment and recognition. Track took everything Freeman learned and believed in while growing up and put a new twist on it.

Freeman grew up as a team player. He tried to do everything he could to help the overall team win. But the late 1980s were lean years for South's football and basketball programs. Track added a new outlet.

"I used to watch them practice track when I was in eighth grade," he said. "I thought it was neat to get out there and run relays and jump like that.

"I guess I didn't realize how much competition was in track until I got involved in it. There were team events and I said 'Hey, this is fun.' The biggest thing was that track allowed you to show your talents. I was a team player, but in track, you are out on your own. What you do as an individual helps your team win, but you control your own destiny. What you do could also allow you to win a state championship."

Freeman's success led him to Montgomery-Rockville Community College, where he was a junior college all-American in football. From there, he earned a scholarship to play at Tennessee.

The team sports ruled while track and its success stayed in the background. Freeman admits he wishes it would have ended his athletic career with bigger and better things, but it resulted in a criminal justice career he loves and a new calling.

"I can relate to these kids," Freeman said. "I grew up in the projects in Frederick Manor. I struggled like the next kid. Sports helped me get to where I am today and the kids see that.

"This is a great feeling. In my line of work, I see so many problem and troubled juveniles, but here, it's a positive chance to get away from all the negative behavior. It's a completely different atmosphere. Kids look up to me as a leader here, not as someone who is going to take them away."

Freeman's experience ended up being his biggest selling point to rebuilding the South program. His past is living proof of what can happen with some effort and dedication to create his present.

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