Act of courage
There are a lot of college coaches out there who talk the talk, but not too many who could have walked the walk that University of Indianapolis head coach LeAnn Freeland made this week. In a courageous move, the fourth-year Greyhounds coach released her team’s leading scorer, Samantha Meissel, from her program.
Meissel (Terre Haute North ’07), who played her last game as a Greyhound on Saturday with 22 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 block in a close 75-73 win over Maryville, was on the cusp of becoming the leading scorer in UIndy history. She was just 110 points shy of the historical mark (1,887 points set by Liz Ramsey in 2001), but that is where Meissel’s scoring quest will end.
According to comments made by Freeland in the Indianapolis Star, the 6’2 center was let go because of inappropriate on-court behavior.
“I care about Sam and think she’s a really good person,” Freeland said in the Star. “Unfortunately, a number of times on the court, she demonstrated destructive actions not just toward the opponent, but toward officials and her teammates. They were done both verbally and physically. I addressed it on a number of occasions, but there was no lasting improvement in her behavior.”
The four-year starter had a stellar career at UIndy. As a junior last season, Meissel was named first team All-GLVC, GLVC Player of the Year, first team All-Midwest Region, third team Daktronics All-American and earned honorable mention All-America from the WBCA. The multi-faceted post was averaging 18.8 points and 5.2 rebounds, while shooting nearly 52% from the field (40% from beyond the arc) in her senior season.
To say that she was a big part of the Greyhounds offense is an understatement, and to release Meissel, Freeland must have felt that she had no choice in order to maintain the reputation of her program. So the Greyhounds will suit up tonight without Meissel as they try to improve on their 8-5 record against 12-2 Missouri S & T.
I have personally never seen Meissel play, nor do I have any insight to the on-court actions that brought about her dismissal, but Freeland’s decision was a courageous one. There is so much pressure for coaches to win, especially in a solid program that has a lofty history of success; however, there must be a line that should not be crossed where the actions of one individual are tolerated for the win-loss column. Freeland has shown a great deal of moral conviction and fortitude not to cross it.
I’m sure that Meissel is devastated by her removal from the team, but it is an experience that will serve her later in life. Actions result in consequences — whether good or bad. Better to learn that lesson now than when it really matters in life.