NEIL FREEMAN
NEIL FREEMAN

Copenhagen Golden Knights

 

Neil Freeman was raised on large dairy farm in upstate New York, the middle child with 5 brothers and 1 sister. Sport was a natural result of an active and competitive spirit at home.

While a student at Copenhagen Central School Neil lettered in wrestling and baseball, achieving his Gold Varsity Letter in his senior year (1980). Under Coach Brad Hamer he became a Frontier League Champion; Neil graduated from CCS and attended Delhi State College.

Neil graduated in 1983 with an Associates Degree in Applied Science, Business Major, and started his career in financial services. He currently is a Financial Planner in practice with his partner Kim Allen at United Professional Advisors, LLC.

In 1984 Neil married the love of his life, Koreen Campany, and together they had two children, a daughter, Whitney, and a son, Hayden. Hayden is the reason that Neil started coaching. In second grade (1998), Hayden begged to wrestle and despite Moms opposition, Dad signed him up for Pee Wee. Neil helped coach, rekindling his passion for the sport. The Pee Wee board and coaches liked what they saw and asked Neil to continue coaching the program. That same year the varsity coach at CCS decided to retire; the President of the Pee Wee Program and BOE Member, Kevin Cooper, recruited Neil to coach for the school. His incentive - take the job, or the program would cease to exist. So, of course, Neil became the new varsity coach for the smallest wrestling program in the Frontier League, the Section, and probably the State.

Neil inherited a very strong team his first year, coaching 5 Class Champions. However, the cupboard for the next season was quite bare and he needed to create a plan to keep the program viable. Neils goal was to build a program that was both competitive and respected for his son and the CCS Wrestling families. He started building at the Pee Wee level and continued to recruit and retain at the modified level. Working with administrators, teachers, Assistant Coach Ken Clarke, and team members he recruited anybody who had ever stepped on a mat. Slowly he built the Varsity Program, increasing team participation by 200%.

The teams continued to work hard, winning several tournaments. In 2008 the Copenhagen Golden Knights were invited for the first time to the Section III Dual Meet Tournament. They had their highest placement in the Sectionals to date. During his years as coach, Neil placed several wrestlers in the state tournament, coached multiple wrestlers to 100 win and 100 pin careers, had numerous Frontier League Tournament Champions, and teams ranked in the state for small schools. His proudest achievement was as 2009 Frontier League Team Champions; the first in 35 years.

Like many successful coaches Neil ran camps, carted wrestlers all over the state, encouraged summer wrestling on the Lewis County Team, and participated in the TI summer tournaments in Clayton. He promoted CCS, Frontier League and Section III wrestling. Neil served as the Frontier League Wrestling Chairman, the FL wrestling representative for Section III, and board for Friends of Section III.
He was awarded FL Coach of the year, FL Certificate of Appreciation for Service and now the Section III Hall of Fame.

Neil retired in 2017 with the most wins of any CCS Wrestling Coach. He brought CCS Wrestling from the brink of folding to one of the most competitive teams in the FL and Section III. He credits his success to his wife of 34 years and the support of great coaches and the wrestling community that has stood behind him. Most important has been the great friendships he has made over the years with coaches, officials, former wrestlers and their parents from CCS, and many communities across Section III. His success was guided by advice from his father, "Treat people the way you want to be treated, and you will be successful in anything you do".