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Getting to know USTA Professional member Matt Freeman( Mon, Dec 7 00:12:AM)

Getting to know USTA Professional member Matt Freeman

“Getting to know you……… getting to know all about you.”

USTA Professional member Matt Freeman is a six-time NBTA World Gold Medalist and a USTA Men's Solo Champion. He is a former feature twirler at Penn State University where he is now the feature twirler advisor. He is also a coach and director (with his wife, Meredith) of M Twirling Team in State College, Pennsylvania. He recently spoke with USTA's Inside Loop. Here's what he had to say:

Inside Loop: As a husband, father, and director of M Twirling Team (while also holding a full-time job), how do to manage your time and continue to develop your baton athletes so successfully?

Freeman: Many factors contribute to the successful outcome of each of these obligations. My wife, Meredith, and I met through baton twirling and continue to be equally involved in the development of our athletes both on and off the competition floor. The best thing about our time spent teaching, coaching and training our students, is that we get to spend that time together. We have been able to spend such quality time together in the moments where some may find high stress or overwhelming obstacles. Being in the gym with our students is always so rewarding, as we both are fully invested in their development and knowledge of the sport. As a husband and wife coaching team, we certainly are able to provide a healthy balance of both style contributions and coaching styles. This allows me to be able to fully execute my obligations outside of our twirling studio while always being a part of their growth and development whether it be behind the scenes in the planning stage, at the lesson as the instructor, or while at a competition being one of their biggest fans.

We know that each student's definition of success looks extremely different. We have some students who define success as coming to a weekly class and spending time with friends. We give them the opportunity to be successful. We also have students who think of success as catching a new trick or finishing a routine, as well as students who have goals far beyond catching a trick. They want to be the best they can be and we provide an opportunity for them to be successful as well. I think the most important part of a successful coach and successful development of the athlete is meeting them where they are and honoring what their definition of success is. The most rewarding part of being a coach is seeing each of these students succeed at their own level and celebrating with them along the way. Knowing what goals they set for themselves, we create the foundation and build up to their full potential together. It takes an equal commitment from the parent, student and coach.

Inside Loop: Being a native Californian, how would you describe baton culture in Pennsylvania compared to California?
Freeman: Polar opposite. I can say that I never realized the lack of appreciation for the sport of baton twirling within communities of California until moving to Pennsylvania and being exposed to the wide variety of opportunities for baton twirlers in parades, high school performances, community events and outreach opportunities statewide. With the lack of large numbers of twirlers within the state of California, it did however bring a close-knit sense of community with those involved, and one that I will continue to develop within the state of Pennsylvania. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to grow up with fellow competitive twirlers in California who pushed each other to consistently improve but have such an appreciation for the plethora of twirlers who create a competitive environment within the east coast twirling states. One thing that I always admire about athletes at such a competitive level is the ability to build friendships and maintain a healthy competitive environment. It's what elevates the youth in our sport to the next level and teaches lessons that will resonate with them much longer than their years competing.
Inside Loop: Tell us three things the twirling world may not know about you.
Freeman: As busy as I am, family is still the priority and I love nothing more than spending time with our two-year-old Macy and watching her grow and develop. Meredith and I are excited to welcome another daughter into our family in February.

During the pandemic, I have taken on some home remodeling projects and have found a passion for carpentry.

My go-to meal is a chicken parmesean with a glass of red wine and tiramisu for dessert. I would eat this every day if I had the choice. I enjoy wine tasting and miss the accessibility to great red wine in California.
Thanks, Matt, for sharing your experience with us and helping us “Get to Know You!”