I was in my usual spot (up high on the 50-yard line) at a Ponies football game last fall when I couldn’t help but notice the actions of my good friend Chris Freichels.
She had a camera in her right hand and a phone in the other so she could record the game for her highlight videos and live update tweets about scoring plays.
If that’s not enough, right after the game Freichels updates Facebook and uploads one of the best highlights from the game. She downloads all of her shots into a computer and starts editing a highlights video — I’m talking NFL quality highlight videos, sports fans.
Chris loves football and has been a fan all of her life, watching the Vikings and Ponies. She vividly remembers going to the 1975 Ponies state championship game at Parade Stadium with her dad, Gary Kriesel and uncle Nile Kriesel at age 7.
Freichels always wanted to be a Pony, but moved with her family to Osceola, Wis., at age 10 and became a Chieftain before graduating from there in 1986.
Chris has been making highlight videos of her son Joey Freichels (a defensive back on the 8-2 Ponies sophomore team) since he played VAA football in the fifth grade. It’s not surprising that she has a B.A. in journalism and mass communications from the University of Minnesota.
She worked as a TV news producer for 12 years at All News Channel (part of Hubbard Broadcasting) and as a freelance video camera operator for several years of Vikings and Twins games. In fact, it was her camera shot of then-Vikings offensive coordinator Bob Schnelker put on the scoreboard that set off coach Jerry Burns on an infamous profanity-laced tirade after the fans booed Schnelker in 1989.
When Ponies head coach Beau LaBore was applying for the job here he searched “Stillwater football” and found some of our girl’s videos on YouTube. He wanted her to help with videos for the Ponies Touchdown Club.
She does social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) and serves as media/communications chair person for the PTC. Don’t forget that Chris also updates the website www.PoniesFootball.com.
Everything that you need to know about Ponies football is on that website, including news, photos, videos, rosters, scores and much more. LaBore spent about 400 hours designing and creating the site before it went live. According to Freichels, there isn’t a more comprehensive website complete with all the bells and whistles in Minnesota prep football.
The site offers live streaming of the games so you can watch them live on the internet by going to the website. Eric and Tami Ekstrand set up and run the stream. Holly Garland Langworthy does the emails and Wayne Peterson, who works for the Wild, does some of the game-day experience stuff. He designed and helped create the new programs and helped with the music.
The team’s official YouTube channel is www.youtube.com/poniesfootball.
During peak times, Freichels puts in about 20 hours per week shooting videos, editing video, updating the website, Facebook and Twitter. We’re talking about big-time multi-tasking here, folks. She even finds time to answer my stupid questions about what she’s doing, but I try to hold that down to once a week. A week is a long time for me to remember.
One of the most famous videos is the Stillwater Homecoming video where Moses parts the Red Sea. It went viral and was shown on TV channels across the USA and currently has 100,000 views on the internet.
Another one that is her favorite is Zach Sobiech and his friends singing the national anthem before the Rosemount game. Sobiech has terminal cancer and his performance was moving, to say the least. Zach wrote a song called “Clouds”, which is a song written for his girlfriend Amy Adamle (Vic and Mary Adamle’s daughter), and that song video is really going viral — racking up one million views in two weeks (www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDC97j6lfyc).
Freichels works at Stillwater Junior High School as a media/tech paraprofessional and has been there since 2007, so she knows players like Nate Ricci, Sam Hodnefield, Ryan Peltier, Jeff Peterson, Chris Rick, Danny Buege and others of that ilk. She watched them grow up and that makes her cheer a little louder — and that’s what it’s really all about. I watched a lot of their dads grow up and I know the feeling.
When the rest of us are looking for our seats prior to the start of a Ponies football game, remember that Freichels has already videotaped crowd shots, gotten sideline shots of the players, coaches, national anthem and checked in the booth to see how the live streaming is going.
She loves what she is doing and it shows!
In the huddle
We have three former standout Ponies swimmers who are participating in ROTC detachments at their respective colleges as freshmen. Vince Radecke is an Air Force ROTC cadet at the University of Minnesota detachment 415, Paul Knaak is in the Army ROTC program at St. John’s and Evan Maxwell is in AFROTC at St. John’s. We’re proud of these guys and captain Dave Ratte ’81, a former Red and Black track and cross country ace who currently heads the Naval ROTC at the U of M…. Look for the NDSU Bison (13-1) to win their second straight FCS national grid title over Sam Houston State (10-3) on Saturday on ESPN2. Kick-off is noon…. The Vikings (10-6) will require hitting on all cylinders to knock off Green Bay (11-5) at Lambeau Field on Saturday night. Last week’s 37-34 Vikings victory was a classic…. Don’t tread on me, because I’m pathetic…. finis
Today’s rumination #599
Never give up until you reach the finish line.
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George Thole retired as head football coach at Stillwater after the 1999 season. He ranks among Minnesota’s top coaches in history with a 285-69-2 record (.805 winning percentage), including four state titles and two state runner-up finishes among 22 championship seasons. He co-authored (with Jerry Foley) “Coaching the Veer Offense,” second edition. His column appears Thursdays in the Gazette. To contact the hall of fame coach e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org