Courtesy: CMU Athletic Communications
Cristy Freese has been a key figure in the Central Michigan athletic department and the prominent leader of the Chippewa field hockey program for 27 seasons.
A three-time recipient of the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year award (1987, 1989 and 2002), Freese has led CMU to two MAC Tournament titles (1990 and 2005) and one regular season championship (2002). Her squads have made five conference championship game appearances and have advanced to the semifinals on seven other occasions.
Freese is the all-time winningest coach in CMU history, having surpassed Mary Bottaro in 2002 with a 1-0 victory over Southwest Missouri State. In 2011, Freese earned another milestone victory, securing her 200th career win with a 4-0 decision over Missouri State.
Forty-nine First Team All-MAC selections, 48 second team honorees, 25 regional All-Americans, two MAC Players of the Year and three MAC Freshmen of the Year have donned the Maroon and Gold under Freese.
A signature of Freese’s program has been success not only on the field but also in the classroom. In 2012, Freese perhaps received the finest tribute to her impact as a coach, as her Chippewas boasted the highest team grade point average nationally in Division I, an impressive 3.61.
Under Freese, 67 athletes have earned NFHCA National Academic Squad honors over the past five seasons and 27 Chippewas have been placed on the Academic All-MAC team since the 2001 season. While at CMU, she has had a total of 144 NFHCA All-Academic team selections in addition to one third team Academic All-American.
“We stress the total student-athlete at Central Michigan University,” Freese said. “It is extremely important to me that our players set high goals for their academic achievement. They work hard to achieve those goals and represent the field hockey program in a positive light.”
In 2012, CMU was highly competitive from the season opener to the MAC Tournament semifinals,playing in 13 matches decided by one goal, including six overtime contests. The Chippewas posted a 3-2 record in MAC play, highlighted by a 1-0 win over defending conference champion Ohio. Central also knocked off No. 22 Maine and gave three other ranked non-conference opponents all they could handle. Two Chippewas were named First Team All-MAC (Simone Lazar and Skyler VanNatta) while three others earned second team honors (Jordyn Brengosz, Anastasia Netto, and Erin Dye). Lazar also received NFHCA Second Team All-West Region recognition.
In her 26th season, Freese took the 2011 Chippewas back toward the top of the Mid-American Conference, leading them to a 5-5 record during conference play, a second place finish in the standings, and their fifth straight appearance in the MAC semifinals. Freese also mentored five All-MAC selections, including first team selection and MAC Freshman of the Year Cayleigh Immelman, first team selection Simone Lazar and second team selections Erin Dye, Paulina Lee and Anastasia Netto.
The Maroon and Gold made an appearance in the MAC Tournament semifinals by closing the 2009 season with four straight victories. The winning streak began with a 1-0 victory over Big Ten foe Michigan on October 28. Kim Erasmus and Melinda Curran each earned First Team All-MAC honors while Kelly Jordan and Kim Sihota were Second Team All-MAC selections.
During the 2008 campaign, the Chippewas recovered from a 1-8 start to win seven of their final 11 matches, including six of seven league contests to close the regular season. Central finished 8-12 overall (6-4 in the MAC) and advanced to the second round of the MAC Tournament with a dominant 5-0 victory over Ball State. CMU faced three ranked opponents during the ’08 season, including a Syracuse team (No. 18 at the time) that climbed to No. 1 in the rankings, No. 6 Iowa and No. 10 Michigan State. Three Chippewas earned All-MAC honors, including first team recognition for Kim Erasmus and MAC Player of the Year Samantha Sandham.
The Chippewas enjoyed a breakthrough 2005 season that saw the squad win the MAC Tournament for the second time in program history. The Maroon and Gold rebounded from an 8-11 regular season to win three straight contests as the host school in the tournament, outscoring the opposition 9-1 to earn their first berth in the NCAA play-in. Central’s season would end in a wild 5-3 loss to Boston University where CMU nearly erased a three-goal deficit in the second half.
In 2002, Freese led Central to its first regular season MAC title in program history. The Chippewas posted a 7-3 MAC record to go with an overall mark of 14-7, their best record since 1985. The campaign netted Freese her third MAC Coach of the Year award.
The 1990 season saw Freese guide CMU to a 9-9 overall record with a 3-2 mark in conference action. The Chippewas finished in a second-place tie in the regular season standings, but caught fire to win their first MAC Tournament crown. Central downed host Ball State in overtime, 3-2, in the conference title match as CMU ended its season on a five-match winning streak.
Freese has been active as a key member of the field hockey community. She was the chairperson of the All-American Committee from 1990-92 and was the chairperson of the NCAA Division I Field Hockey Committee from 1995-99. Most recently, she served as the first vice president of the National Field Hockey Coaches Association from 1999-2004. She has also served on the Division I West Region All-America committee.
Freese has coached in the USA Field Hockey Futures Program and was the coaching director for the Midwest Region in 1992-93. She also has coached and directed various camps across the country.
Freese graduated cum laude from The Ohio State University in 1980 with a degree in education. She was a four-year letterwinner in field hockey and was a captain her senior year for the Buckeyes.
Freese earned her master’s degree in physical education and coaching from James Madison University, where she was a graduate assistant coach for field hockey and lacrosse from 1980-82. She also was a full-time assistant at JMU from 1982-85.
Freese was the head coach at Davis & Elkins College for one season before coming to CMU in 1986.