Class ACT: Freeman and Vinson excel in books and athletics

Free man

ELoving the thrill of competition and the wonders of academics, Emma Freeman has had no trouble finding time for both in her career at St. Louis Catholic.

The St. Louis graduate excelled in both areas, making it to five state championship track and field teams while graduating with a 4.6 GPA and a 34 test score from American College. For this, she is the winner of the girls of the American press College Athlete of the Year Award.

Freeman played several sports before focusing on track and field, in which she won numerous individual state championships and a scholarship to compete at Ole Miss.

“My freshman year I played volleyball, basketball and track and field,” she said. “My sophomore year I did basketball and track and then my last two years were just track and field,” she said. “I love training, being able to work for a championship, competing and having a team around me.

“Athletics is the perfect sport for me. I like being able to do my events alone and then get together as a team to try to win championships.

Freeman said it was hard to give up basketball.

“I loved (head coach) Tony Johnson and being part of this team,” she said. “I knew basketball wouldn’t take me as far as track and field, but I really loved being on this team.”

Freeman enjoyed great success in track and field, winning five tag team titles and three individual state championships on discus. She was twice second in the javelin throw and three top-10 finishes in the shot put.

“As soon as Coach Johnny Giordano came in, that made all the difference,” she said. “He was the perfect coach for me. He was always there to push me and always worked to build a relationship with all of his athletes.

Success early in high school led Freeman to focus on the right path in hopes of earning a scholarship.

“In college, I was pretty dominant in throws, but winning state in discus my freshman year and finishing second in second let me know I was good at every level,” he said. she stated. “That’s when I decided I wanted to work for the chance to throw in college.

“It feels good now. I know not everyone gets this opportunity. I’m grateful for that. The recruiting process was super fun. Knowing that I was among the elite in my sport was also great.

A trip to Oxford sold Freeman on Ole Miss.

“I knew it was a place I wanted to be,” she said. “All the team members were friendly and I liked everything about the school. I got to meet people from the engineering department and they were all nice. I loved the campus and it’s the perfect distance from home for me.

Finding time for schoolwork has never been a problem.

“I love academics and sports, I love both, so it’s never been a challenge to balance them,” she said.

“I am a mathematician. I took calculus this year and it was definitely my favorite course. I also loved chemistry and everything related to math and science. I’m going to study computer engineering at Ole Miss. I always wanted to be an engineer. I’m very logical…I’ve done a lot of research on all engineering disciplines and this is the one that appealed to me the most.


John Vinson spent a few years finding a sport at Westlake High School that suited him.

After settling on football, the linebacker helped the Rams to a turnaround season in his senior year when the Rams went from winless to hosting a second-round playoff game.

Along the way, Vinson has shone in the classroom, graduating summa cum laude with a 4.29 GPA, earning 40 college credit hours, and winning Westlake’s annual Confer-Creel Scholarship.

For this he is the boys winner of the American press College Athlete of the Year Award.

Vinson said he enjoyed trying out different sports during his first two years.

“I played baseball and track and field for a year, baseball for two years and football for four years,” he said.

“Being in different sports gave me a sense of how great Westlake is. You can really choose your own path. Baseball was great, they were a great group of guys. I loved the people and a lot of my best friends come from baseball.

“The track was good, it was more of a solo time. You’re on your own, cooling off after a long day of school. It was a satisfying way to get some recovery time at the end of the day.

Vinson said he was drawn to the teamwork of football.

“I was trying to find my niche and found football was my favourite,” he said. “You fight for a team, not just an individual.”

Vinson says he particularly enjoyed his senior season. The Rams went from 0-4 in the 2020 season to 8-4 in 2021, beating Grant 45-22 in the first round of the playoffs.

“We were nothing,” he said. “We were 2-8 in my first year, then we didn’t win a game at all the following year; then came back, had an incredible season and made the playoffs. To have that turnaround and that playoff win that we worked for was so awesome. It was great to play against Sterlington in the second round.

After a busy first year at Westlake, Vinson figured out how to better manage his time to ensure continued success in the classroom.

“My freshman year was pretty tough and I freaked out a bit, but I realized academics came first,” he said. “I started to balance everything, I learned not to procrastinate and not to make bad decisions. I started doing my work early and that made it easier for me.

Vinson said some classes at Westlake are just as fun as working out.

“Coach Keith Guidry’s pre-calculation course was my favorite,” he said. “There was a pretty smart group of students who had been together for years growing up. He was the type of teacher that everyone loved, that changes your life.

Vinson took all of his classes at McNeese State for the past school year and ultimately decided to stay there for his undergraduate career.

“Now it will be full time,” he said. “I considered Louisiana Tech and LSU, but ultimately being at McNeese and living at home will save me a lot of money for graduate school.”

Vinson is considering a career in law or government.

“I wanted to be a business major until my sophomore year,” he said. “Then I took an AP government course and fell in love with it and thought it was a pretty cool idea. I enjoyed studying the different laws, the Supreme Court and everything. I can see me being a politician in the future, but I’m not sure yet.

About Joey J. Hott

Check Also

3 recommendations for non-fiction reading : NPR

DANIEL ESTRIN, HOST: You could be swimming in salt water this summer or in chlorinated …