A Struggle Turns Jalen Freeman into a Leader


Natalie Turner

Jalen Freeman (40 Right) who will be a captain on the football team next year has gained leadership skills without the presence of his father.

As senior year approaches, junior Jalen Freeman is expected to be a big leader on the football team.

“He’s gonna be one of our leaders, especially on defense… He’s gonna be a third year returning starter and he’s gonna be huge for our defensive line,” Coach Nick Stokes said.

Freeman is going to take on this role, even though his father was not around to show him what leadership looked like.

“He was always on the go since he played in the MLB [Major League Baseball] and he’d sometimes come back and visit, but not much besides that,” Freeman said.

While growing up without a father, Freeman found a way to cope with his past.

“Whenever I’m angry about the situation or if I have something that’s going on, I’ve put all that energy and rage into grinding for football whether it’s lifting weights, running, or during practice,” Freeman said.

Since football has become a positive outlet, his coaches say he will help guide the football team.

“He’s very vocal and he’s pretty strong, so the guys look up to him. He’s probably gonna be one of our big leaders next year,” Coach Zach Allgood said.

Freeman’s coaches and teammates have noticed his growth over the past three years and say he is becoming a positive influence.

“He actually was pretty quiet the first couple of months I taught him, but he’s grown comfortable with himself a lot in these past couple of years,” Allgood said.

“I see him maturing every day… He shows his maturity. He makes better decisions. He leads more by example. He’s starting to grasp…that hard work equates to success,” Stokes said.

“I think Jalen not having a father at a young age has made him grow up faster and made him a better leader and stronger individually,” teammate Logan Brungardt said.

Freeman hopes to become a role model for other teens who have also gone through a similar situation.

“When they see me I want them to smile, I want them to remember me in the halls and see me as a leader. I want them to see me as a great football player on and off the field. Even without the important people in your life, if you put your dedication, your heart to it, you can do anything,” Freeman said.