YORK — Missy Freeman had never thrown a shot put, discus or javelin. She had never coached track and field.

But when York High track and field coach Ted Hutch asked, mostly out of desperation, if Freeman and her husband, Rodney, would work with his throwers two weeks before practice started in the spring of 2017, Freeman had no doubts she could be successful.

Sure, coaching field events would be a new endeavor, but she had been successful as a college swimming coach, a high school soccer coach, and as an athlete in her own right. She was a referee, a physical education teacher, and had home-schooled her four children. It might have been 17 years since her last official coaching gig, as the girls’ varsity soccer coach at Portsmouth High in New Hampshire, but there was no doubt she could teach, encourage and inspire young people.

“God made me who I am,” said Freeman, 57, who lives in Cape Neddick in York. “I have endless energy. I love kids and I have an ability, a knack, whatever the sport is.”

Hutch says that at the time, the Freemans were “not my first choice. But they were my last choice. And they were the best choice.”

Rodney Freeman, a former state champion shot putter at York and retired army colonel, stepped away from coaching after the second season. Missy Freeman, all 5-foot-4 of her, took over all the throwing events, often surrounded by young men a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier.

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“She knows every kid. She treats every kid as an individual,” Hutch said. “She’s a mom. She’s a former soccer coach, basketball player, army wife, so nothing really frazzles her. She’s coaching these big giants and there’s no fear at all in her eyes, and they know who’s in command when she’s coaching. She’s wonderful.”

During a recent York practice, Freeman was a non-stop bundle of energy. She needs to be. Twenty-eight of York’s 85 boys and girls in the outdoor track program compete in a throwing event.

“She’s honestly just a ball of positivity,” said Stella Fagan, a senior captain. “She always has something to bring to everyone. She gives us time. We’ll meet hours before practices on weekends. She’ll literally do anything for us. It’s inspiring.”

It’s Freeman’s goal to interact with every thrower every day. Her intention is two-fold: help them become better at their event and to guide them toward gaining the internal power to make an impact, to lead, and to help others.

“My focus is every kid, from the one who throws the least to the ones who win everything,” she said. “My goal is to make every kid feel part of the team, give them some leadership, give them some responsibility and bring them to whatever level they can achieve.”

The approach is working.

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York dominated the boys’ throwing events in 2021 and figures to do it again this year, both at the Western Maine Conference Championships at Lake Region High on Saturday and then at the Class B state meet at Mt. Desert Island High on June 4.

Last year, Aidan Martin and Matt Charpentier finished 1-2 at the state meet in both the shot put and discus, with Martin winning the shot and Charpentier taking the discus title. Martin, who graduated in 2021, also won the javelin, and teammate Nick Banakos, the 12th seed, placed fifth. York’s throwers scored more than half of the Wildcats’ 84 points as they finished runner-up to Mt. Desert Island.

Martin (54 feet, 5 inches) and Charpentier (52-8 1/4) threw the shot farther than any competitor at the Class A or C meets. Charpentier’s winning discus throw of 152-10 was also best in the state. Martin’s 174-3 javelin throw was second-best to Eli Soehren of Oxford Hills.

This winter, Charpentier, a junior, broke a 43-year-old Class B indoor record in the shot put with a final throw of 56-6 1/4.

Charpentier will be the favorite in the shot and discus, where he’s thrown personal bests this season of 54-6 and 163-4. Charpentier and Freeman often put in extra time after practice, trying to refine his throws. Charpentier, who is 6-1, 250 pounds, described the athlete-coach dynamic as “a really good friendship,” adding Freeman can be blunt and direct when she sees a mistake or a form breakdown.

“Which I appreciate. But she cares about everyone. I know she loves me deep down,” Charpentier said.

Will Orso, a state champion heavyweight wrestler, will be in the hunt to pick up points in the shot and discus. First-year thrower Colt Holland is a threat to place in the shot, too. Freeman is looking to get as many as five javelin throwers qualified for the state meet, led by Kai Dunn, a junior sprinter who picked up the event after the season started and has already thrown 143-0 – a mark that would have placed fifth in 2021.

Freeman said the first time she saw Dunn throw, she recognized his natural potential. In barely more than a month, Dunn has added more than 30 feet of distance. On Wednesday, he was consistently heaving the spear in the 150-foot range.

“At the start of the season, I just noticed that if I listened to what she said most of the time and actually think about what she’s doing and apply it to my technique, it works really well,” Dunn said.


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