Monta Vista swim coach’s death saddens local athletes

February 10, 2011 — by Tim Rollinson

The Monta Vista High School pool deck will be noticeably quieter this year. Longtime coach and teacher Ron Freeman passed away on Jan. 21 at age 52 from a heart attack after watching a Monta Vista basketball game.

Freeman was a figurehead in the Monta Vista community. His career at Monta Vista lasted more than 30 years, a time in which he taught and coached countless students. He could be found on campus at all hours teaching both PE and history while coaching swimming and water polo. He was known by many as “Screamin’ Freeman,” a tribute to his booming voice and fiery personality.

“He was an icon,” said swim coach Kristen Thomson. “Everyone knew who he was.”

Monta Vista has been in mourning since his passing, honoring him with flowers and notes on the pool deck. The school has also honored him with pictures and notes on its official website. A Facebook page in his honor now has almost 2,000 members. However, the bad news has not been contained to Monta Vista; it has made waves among the entire aquatic community. An article even appeared on the official website of USA water polo reporting the untimely death.

“I heard about it right after it happened,” said senior swimmer Adam Hinshaw. “He was really well known and respected in the swimming community.”

Thomson mentioned plans of honoring Freeman at this years league finals, which will be hosted at Saratoga on May 4, 5 and 6.

He served as the director of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League for both swimming and water polo, scheduling and coordinating events. Thomson is hoping the finals could be named in Freeman’s honor and anticipates a moment of silence for Freeman at the beginning of the event.

Many students at SHS were also coached by Freeman.

“He was brutal sometimes, but it was always to help us get better,” said senior Will Tang, who learned to play water polo from Freeman. “Overall, he was a good guy and an amazing coach.”

“He seemed intimidating at first but in reality he was really encouraging,” said senior Pia Mishra, who had Freeman as a water polo coach her freshman year at Monta Vista. “He was the hardest working coach I ever had.”

The loss will leave a gaping hole in the local swimming scene and many young athletes will never get to experience the truly unique Freeman.

“Everything he did was for the students,” said Thomson. “He never gave up on them; his dedication was really admirable.”

7 views this week