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Basketball and volleyball make Isabel Freeman a rare college athlete

As St. John Lutheran High School's basketball graduation night came to an end, tears flowed from Isabel Freeman's eyes. With a total of 16 offers for indoor and beach volleyball, she could have been standing with joy about her athletic career, but it also marked the end of her high school basketball career.

Freeman, a standout on the girls basketball, indoor and beach volleyball teams, had coaches who believed in her volleyball talent from the early days of her high school career. But her first love was basketball. Knowing she would miss the game that launched her athletic career, she called her coach, Adam Boomhower, to help her recruit.

“I didn't really want to play college basketball, but on Senior Night I thought, I'm going to miss it,” Freeman said. “I've worked hard for my team this year and I can't let that go to waste.”

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While Boomhower was gauging interest, Freeman, with the help of her mother, Laurie Rich, narrowed her options to Maryville College. As much as the volleyball coaching staff liked her, another program spotted her talent on the basketball court.

After Darrin Travillian, head coach of the Maryville women's basketball team, watched film of Freeman, who set a career-high 15.8 rebounds per game in her final season, putting her in the top 10 in the state, Travillian found the missing piece of the puzzle for his recent recruiting class. Freeman found where she would continue her athletic career in the sport she loved.

As a kindergartener on an all-boys team full of first-graders, Freeman stood out as one of the best athletes, her natural instincts allowing her to take the lead on offense.

She impressed her coach so much that she asked him to play for his team before the league's draft began. That same year, she filmed a basketball commercial for Disney's NBA Experience.

“I've always loved basketball. I grew up playing basketball because my dad watched it,” Freeman said. “Basketball has always been close to my heart.”

Carlton Freeman, a former Division II star at Central Missouri State University in the 1980s, passed on his athleticism and love of the game to Freeman, resulting in his daughter becoming a natural multi-sport athlete.

“Basketball has always been more her thing,” said Isabel's sister and volleyball coach Shelby Freeman. “It came naturally to her. She gravitated towards volleyball when I started playing and it was definitely something she had to work on.”

While Freeman didn't have the immediate success she did in basketball, it didn't take long for coaches to recognize her potential at the midfield. When she switched schools in middle school, the multi-sport athlete focused on volleyball. As she was rising in volleyball, a call from the sidelines prompted her to return to basketball.

A change of heart has shaped Freeman's athletic career in many ways. If she doesn't switch to volleyball in middle school, who knows if she'll have the opportunity to continue her education? There are no guarantees when you switch sports, but Freeman has found a way to aim high in both sports.

Like most younger siblings, Freeman forged her path with a unique flair that can only be learned by watching those before you. Freeman combined Carlton's love of basketball and Shelby's love of volleyball, becoming part of a small class of athletes who play two sports at the collegiate level.