By Zach Womble for The White House Connection
While most of us were out trick or treating on Halloween night, Kris Freeman was busy jumping for joy. Freeman, who has been the public address announcer for White House athletics since 2012, was offered the public address announcer job for Vanderbilt men’s and women’s basketball for the 2015-16 season.
“A huge blessing”
Freeman heard about the job opening the night the Blue Devils football team took on Pearl Cohn in mid-October.
“Several fans of White House tagged me in a post from Kevin Ingram,” said Freeman. “Ingram, who is on 104.5 the Zone, was passing along that Vanderbilt was looking for a public address announcer. So after the game was over, I sent Kevin a message on Facebook and he gave me the contact for Vanderbilt.”
Freeman, who is pastor at Revolution Church in White House and serves as president of the board of the White House Chamber of Commerce, said his patience paid off.
“I waited about nine days,” he said. “I was getting ready to say, ‘alright cool opportunity but nothing will come of it.’ I heard that Wednesday and went in to audition the day before Halloween. It went slow, then really fast. I auditioned in Memorial Gym and they called me that night.
“To have this opportunity is really cool. I’ve been a Vanderbilt fan all my life. I never expected to have a chance. Now I sit in a place in Memorial Gym that
I normally don’t have access to. This is a huge blessing for me. When they called it was pretty emotional, incredible and the best part was telling my 10 year old son Noah after school. That was probably the best part of the whole deal.”
A Panther in White House
Freeman, who graduated from Portland High School, was a journalist back in 1994 when he was asked to cover White House football. It was at that point that he met a person who would have a significant impact on his life.
“I have developed a great relationship with (White House football) coach (Jeff) Porter,” Freeman said. “If it wasn’t for coach Porter I wouldn’t have a church, job or be president of the chamber in White House and I certainly wouldn’t be working for Vanderbilt. Coach Porter gave me a clipboard and drastically changed my life. I am thankful to him for giving a kid who is not associated with the school a chance. White House believed in me and that is why I am at Vanderbilt.”
Freeman said he wasn’t able to take the field when he was a student at Portland.
“I wasn’t able to play sports in high school,” said Freeman. “I blew my knee out at a church event, I went to have an MRI on my knee and they found I had a bone tumor in my left leg. I didn’t have any long term effects but I missed out on my opportunity to play.”
Freeman said the fact he didn’t play was actually a blessing in disguise.
“I think had I played sports for Portland it would have been more difficult to cover White House,” said Freeman. “Even though I was covering White House I never had to cover a Portland versus White House game as a reporter, which may have helped.”
A Blue Devil through and through
Now Freeman says he is all Blue Devil as his two children attend White House Middle School.
“White House is my family,” said Freeman. “This is where my kids go to school. There is no doubt my heart is with White House now. This is where I belong. My daughter plays middle school basketball now and will be for a long time.”
Noah is a fifth grader at the school while big sister Madison is in seventh grade.
Of course, there is another member of the family too. There is no question that Freeman subscribes to the theory that behind every good man is an even better woman.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my wife Jennifer,” said Freeman. “One thing we talk about is every open door is an opportunity. Jennifer and I have been married for 17 years. I was doing baseball and basketball for Volunteer State broadcasting when I met her in 1996. She was working at a radio station. I married her because of it. Now she is in payroll administration at ServPro corporate.”
Adversity struck the Freeman family when his son, at the age of five, was put into a wheelchair with the same injury that ended Bo Jackson’s career.
“Going through what I went through as a kid was the best experience to help my son,” said Freeman. “It helped me have the right perspective and I was able to look at it in a different way.”
Freeman said that he still may fill in as the PA announcer when he can for White House basketball and that football is still a possibility since it is on Friday nights in the fall.
A new challenge
While working for Vanderbilt will be exciting, Freeman said it will be drastically different than what he is used to.
“In high school I do everything,” said Freeman. “I will do all the prep work and in college they do all the prep work for you. I just have to hit the button and talk. You have to be able to multi-task. What I am looking forward to the most is calling their first three. They are one of two or three schools that have made a three pointer in every game since the three came in existence. That will be cool.”
Freeman got his first game out of the way on Friday, Nov. 13 when the Commodores defeated Austin Peay, 80-41. They made eight three-pointers in the game.