Academy leader Freddy Coleman: ‘I want to push the athlete’

The former NDSU standout now encourages players in Fargo basketball academy

MINNEAPOLIS — Former NDSU basketball star Freddy Coleman is now in his seventh month as sports academy specialist of the Sanford POWER Basketball Academy in Fargo. Coleman spent last week in Minneapolis at the men’s NCAA Final Four with staff from the Sanford Pentagon meeting with coaches from across the country. Sanford Health News caught up with Coleman to talk about the 10-year anniversary of his NCAA Tournament appearance with the North Dakota State University Bison, lessons he learned from his coaches and his vision for the basketball academy in Fargo.

QUESTION: It’s been 10 years since you were part of the NDSU team that played Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. What do you remember about that experience?

ANSWER: It’s funny — I don’t remember a lot of the wins and losses from that year. The thing that I take away from that group, and to this day, is how close we were — close we are. The reason why that time was so successful was because of our off-the-court interactions and how tight we were. We always joke around about “Bison Family,” but it’s real — it’s a thing. That was just a really fun year in my life that we’ll always remember, and we’ll tell our kids someday.

Q: During this week, you’ve met up with your former coach at NDSU, Saul Phillips; the coach who recruited you to NDSU, Tim Miles; and a number of teammates. This week has been like a special reunion for you, hasn’t it?

A: I’ve always said college basketball is such a small world. Once you’re in it, you know one guy, who knows this guy, who’s from this hometown, and it’s really cool to see a lot of familiar faces. You don’t see each other every day or talk every day, but every time you do see someone — whether that’s one year, two years or five years — it’s pretty special. With Coach (Dave) Richman and Coach Miles and Coach Saul, you may not see each other for a while, but when you do, it picks up right where it left off.

Q: What will athletes take away from working with you at the Sanford POWER Basketball Academy in Fargo?

A: They’re going to have fun. That’s my main thing — especially kids coming into the game for the first time. It doesn’t matter what level you are — if you’re a kindergartner or a professional getting ready to make millions of dollars — you have to enjoy the process. I always want kids to learn something. I treat the basketball court almost like a classroom. You also need to find something that you need to improve on. Those are the three boxes that I check off every single day when kids walk in with me.

Q: How much pride do you have when an athlete you’ve worked with has success with his or her club team or school team?

A: It’s really cool, and I’ve always said as a trainer, you never want to take credit for a kid’s success. But when a mom of an athlete I work with shoots you a text and says that her daughter did a really good job in her tournament that weekend and she’s playing with more confidence, for me that’s it — that’s why we do this.

Q: What is your vision for the future of the Sanford POWER Basketball Academy in Fargo?

A: It’s going to grow; it’s going to take off very soon. My goal with the Fargo and North Dakota community is I want to have an environment where athletes can go and know they’re going to get work and know they’re going to get better. I really want to push the athlete. I want to take basketball where it’s at and raise the bar. I really want to challenge them. By the time they’re done working out with me, they’re going to get something out of it. My motto is, “If I can’t challenge you, I can’t change you.”

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