Just five years ago, she was trying to lead Dartmouth to another Ivy title. Now Sherryta Freeman has quickly risen to a position to make a difference for student-athletes at Temple University.
The transition from student-athlete to administrator is usually neither easy nor immediate. But former Dartmouth basketball standout Sherryta Freeman found a path for that made the move seemless and speedy.
Freeman -- the Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance at Temple University in Philadelphia -- is now immersed in a high-profile athletic program, making a difference for the school's student-athletes. She believes that her experiences as a college athlete helped prepare her for this position and enjoy her new profession.
"Anyone can do the job," Freeman said. "But as a former player there is a natural understanding and connection I have with the students. I do not think you can have a true appreciation for working with athletes unless you have been one."
Freeman began working in athletic administration as a Dartmouth undergraduate, squeezing in work at the athletic director's office between practices and her studies. Because of her experiences, she understands the struggles her own student-athletes have balancing priorities.
"People do not realize how draining it is to be a varsity athlete," Freeman said. "But athletics structures your day in a positive way. You have to make good use of your time, otherwise you can't fit it all in."
One opportunity that helped Freeman was interning for USA Swimming. She gained work experience at major events such as the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials and the U.S. National Disability Championships.
Freeman's athletic dedication paid off as well as she and the Big Green won two Ivy League titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1999 and 2000. In her first trip Dartmouth lost to Rutgers, 84-70. Freeman cherishes her postseason experience. "As a kid, I watched those games on television and never imagined I would have an opportunity to play at that level," she said.
The Big Green dominated the League with a 12-2 record the next year, but in the NCAA Tournament unfortunately drew the defending national champion Purdue Boilermakers. Freeman and the Big Green lost a hard-fought battle, 70-66.
Hanging up her sneakers Freeman knew she wanted to continue working in college athletics. Dartmouth Coach Chris Wielgus pointed her to her next position, as Public Information Assistant with the Ivy League in Princeton, N.J.
"It was a big change," Freeman said. "Year one, out of school, I definitely wished I was still playing. But from a career standpoint it was the best thing ever."
Freeman got her hoops fix by playing basketball at lunch with Princeton coaches and staff, and was also the League's women's basketball contact. She wrote the weekly basketball release, selected the Player and Rookie of the Week, and covered conference games.
After being an Ivy athlete, Freeman liked seeing the inner-workings of the conference but still felt her Dartmouth loyalties.
"It was great to learn everything that goes on behind the scenes at the conference after working in a school athletic department," Freeman said. "The hardest part was not putting Green on everything."
Another highlight was working on the League's Black History Project. "Being an African American woman, it was enlightening because I wasn't aware of all of the people and stories that are out there," Freeman said. "It was great to interview people, especially people from Dartmouth, because I really felt I could relate to them."
Freeman continued her education at the University of Massachusetts' sports management program in 2002 and returned to Dartmouth the following year. After completing her degree in February 2004, she accepted a position as Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance. Freeman moved to Temple in August of 2005.
She would eventually like to become an athletics director.
"As an athletics director your goal is to make a strong and successful department," Freeman said. "As a former athlete, you know how important it is to be a part of something like that."
Ed. note With 10 Ivy League championships, one Patriot League title and six NCAA tournament appearances, Freeman's coach at Dartmouth -- Chris Wielgus -- has established herself as one of the nation's elite coaches. Wielgus sports a 352-240 overall record in 23 seasons, 21 of which have been at the helm of the Big Green program. Freeman is also one of several former Ivy assistants working in college athletics, including Chad Hawley (Assistant Commissioner, Big 10 Conference), Nathan Fry (Assistant Director of Athletics, Harvard University), Kevin Anderson (Assistant Director of Championships, Pac-10 Conference), LaKesha Whitaker (Director of Media Relations, Atlantic Sun Conference), Mary Mulvenna (Director of Compliance, Missouri Valley Conference) and Brian Barrio (Director of Compliance, University of Southern California).
— Josi Carlson