Senior leads mental health club, volleyball team

Anna Freeman runs the Active Minds club and plays for multiple volleyball teams, all while taking demanding academic classes.

Freeman+leads+an+Active+Minds+presentation.

Sydney McDonald

Freeman leads an Active Minds presentation.

Katharine Blackford, Clubs and Activities Editor

The “student paradox” triangle is familiar to any student with a busy schedule. At each corner is a different aspect to a student’s life: grades, social life and sleep, plus sub-categories of sports, work and clubs. Underneath the triangle the text “choose two” rings true for many students. Senior Anna Freeman, who juggles a club co-presidency, varsity volleyball games and practice, as well as demanding coursework, does her best to keep her triangle balanced on all sides.

Anna Freeman is involved with numerous clubs, including being the co-president for Active Minds, takes demanding academic classes, and plays for both a school-affiliated and national volleyball team. Freeman recently committed to Washington University in St. Louis and will play volleyball for their division III team, the WashU Bears.

“Volleyball is the main thing I take part in. I’ve been playing volleyball for ten years, and I also play club volleyball, which isn’t through school. Every November to summer, I go up to Cleveland and train with a volleyball team, so I travel with them. We travel everywhere. We go to Chicago, and Louisville, and a lot of cities, which is how I got recruited to play college too. It’s a whole loop of connected things,” Freeman said. 

Freeman has played on Revere’s varsity volleyball team for all four years of high school.

“[This year] was my last run with it. We have been competing very well as a team as our league has gotten better in these four years. There have been more difficult matchups than in the past,” Freeman said.

Though she has not won every game, Freeman still maintains a winning spirit that motivates her team.

“We may be losing games, but we play very well and have great team chemistry, so I think that’s helping us throughout the losses that we have had, but we still are winning. It’s pushing us to play a lot better,” Freeman said.

After playing consistently for more than a decade, Freeman has come away with helpful experience for both herself and her teammates to learn from.

“Everything [volleyball] has granted me as far as an opportunity, like college and friendships, [and] relationships, I wouldn’t be the same person without it. I’ve learned how to be a teammate, how to cooperate, how to be a leader, I’ve talked to a lot of coaches and a lot of different people through [volleyball]. My experience after ten years [brings a lot to the team],” Freeman said.

Freeman believes that positive teamwork stems from sharing experience with others.

“Volleyball is an easy sport to just start playing, but if you want to be very into it and have a positive presence on the court, you have to have that experience, play on those national teams where you travel and practice four times a week. You have to put in the work to give your understanding to others,” Freeman said.

Freeman acts as a leader on her team, guiding other team members using her experience.

“I helped the team overall have a better understanding of volleyball. I call things out in practice that others might not be aware of. I also hold people accountable. If someone’s not doing their job, we all tell each other ‘you have to pass that ball’ or ‘you have to hit that ball.’ I make sure everyone works hard and stays consistent and focused, while having fun at the same time,” Freeman said.

Besides volleyball, Freeman takes part in many clubs Revere offers, including Students Demand Action, Student Council and Active Minds, for which she co-founded the Revere chapter.

“I started Active Minds at Revere, which is a huge chapter organization at schools and colleges and universities. It promotes mental health awareness, and Paige Hudnall and I started that because we saw the need for awareness,” Freeman said.

Freeman has a personal connection to Active Minds’s mental health destigmatization message.

“My family and myself have had a history with mental disorders, and I’ve seen the effects of everything, whether it’s people around here having a problem, and up in Cleveland, I’ve heard of a lot of incidents that have occured,” Freeman said.

Freeman believes that, through Active Minds, she and the club itself can enact real change. 

“Overall, 50% of people have mental health disorders, and it’s so bashed on. It’s something we need to change the conversation about, and it’s difficult to talk about, but if the whole world could come together and really dive into this positive, cooperative change, I really think there could be a change,” Freeman said.

Her position of co-president at the club empowers Freeman to use her influence to promote the cause. 

“Knowing the chance I have of having a club that could do something in the school is pushing me to do it,” Freeman said.

Although attendees do receive volunteer hours for each meeting, Freeman wants the club to be more than just a checkbox for students’ applications.

“[Paige and I] don’t just want it to be for people’s applications. We want [people] to notice the change and want the change. It’s something I really want people to see change in the world,” Freeman said.

Besides extracurricular activities, Freeman also pushes herself academically.

“I’m in honors and AP classes. I’ve been in 4 AP classes as a total (Psychology, Government, Microeconomics and Biology), and I’m in Calculus right now, as well as CCP English,” Freeman said.

Managing her time commitment to so many different activities takes effort, but Freeman learned from her decade of playing to balance her schedule.

“[Balancing my life] isn’t easy, but because I’ve been playing for so long and doing the same things every year, I’ve learned a lot. You have to have time management,” Freeman said.

Freeman dedicates herself to staying on top of all of her responsibilities equally, dividing her time between school, volleyball and sleep, which leaves little free time. 

“I will seriously go home every day and just start doing my homework. I don’t have time to sit around on my phone, as much as I would love to, I just like to [get my homework done], go to practice at five, then go to bed afterwards,” Freeman said.

Within her academics Freeman achieves high grades, even with the increased difficulty that comes with high-level classes.

“Good grades are the one thing I have this internal motivation to do. Nobody around me really expects that of me, but it’s one thing I want for myself. Academics comes first. I’m a student-athlete, not an athlete-student,” Freeman said.

Freeman’s high achievement requires sacrifices in other time-consuming areas, such as quality time spent with friends.

“I’ve given up a lot in [terms of my social life] but not in a bad way. It’s hard to recognize it. On Saturday mornings I have practice. I can go to the football game, but I can’t stay the whole time. I’ve given up a lot, but my friends are understanding of it,” Freeman said.

Though Freeman is willing to make sacrifices to her social life at times, she considers sleep to be something she cannot give up for other commitments.

“Sleep, I do mind giving up. I try to go to bed at 10:30. I won’t stay up doing homework, I will stay up studying. I noticed that I don’t function off of little sleep, so if I want to continue to get good grades, and I want to continue to be good at volleyball, and continue to have even some sort of social life, I’ve got to get sleep,” Freeman said.

Freeman’s commitment to Washington University led her to search for potential majors available there, and she set her sights on a specific psychology-oriented program.

“At WashU, they have a Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology degree that’s one major called PNP. It’s super interesting to me. Neuroscience fills into [Psychology], and Philosophy fills into it. I like the broad idea of it, and there they have very concentrated courses you can take. I can expand on what I like,” Freeman said.

Freeman’s involvement in Active Minds led her to realize her passion for psychology and direct action.

“Through Active Minds and my experience, I had a new spark of understanding and a want to change something about it, so something [I would like to be is] even a behavioral pediatrician. Something that can actually make a direct impact,” Freeman said.

Other than PNP, Freeman is also considering majoring in business or marketing. Freeman hopes to use her psychology degree to pursue a MBA or attend grad school for more direct study. 

Freeman credits her parents for empowering her to continue with volleyball and shaping her into the person she became from doing so.

“Without my parents and the perseverance they provided me with, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I couldn’t do it without them, I wouldn’t have started this sport or gotten all of these opportunities for college and learned to be the same person I am,” Freeman said. 

Freeman’s drive to succeed underscores all of her achievements and responsibilities. 

“I’m a very proactive person. I want to keep going, and I’m very motivated which kept me through all [of volleyball]. I’m very driven and focused. A lot of people are motivated, and they want something, but they’re not focused on it,” Freeman said. 

Freeman hopes that others see more than just her high achievements in volleyball and consider her other activities and interests.

“Everything is very purposeful for me. I’m not what they always see like, ‘the volleyball player.’ There’s more to me than an athlete,” Freeman said. 

Emily Rion, the supervisor for Active Minds and a school counselor at Revere, interacts directly with both Freeman and Hudnall daily.

“Both Paige Hudnall and Anna. . . have the same equal role [in Active Minds]. They’re both co-presidents of the Active Minds club. Both of them share equal responsibility; they do divvy up jobs or tasks that I give them,” Rion said.

Freeman and Hudnall first approached Rion with the idea to start a mental health-based club.

“They work in tandem so beautifully together–it’s seamless. Last year, both Anna and Paige came to see me and said they really wanted to do something about mental health awareness in our building. That’s a beautiful concept,” Rion said. 

Rion believes that the club’s goal will help fight the stigma that mental health carries. 

“There is a huge stigma, even still to this day, and I understand why, but I think by having groups like Active Minds, that’s going to really help it,” Rion said.

Though she is the group’s supervisor, Rion says that Freeman and Hudall take charge of the meetings and organization.

“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t talk to Anna or Paige, and Anna will get the word out about our meetings. She helps organize and collaborate and keep track of the Bright Side. When we are in sessions, Anna and Paige really set the tone for how the group will go. They are the leaders,” Rion said.

Freeman and Hudnall both contribute equally to leading the club’s discussions.

“There are times where I turn it right over to them, and they just go with it, and they’re amazing. They both have really great ideas, and they both are very considerate of other people and thoughtful and mature beyond their years,” Rion said.

Senior Paige Hudnall, Active Minds’ co-president, runs the club alongside Freeman.

“Everything that goes into Active Minds, we plan and started. It’s a big chunk of time, especially with her volleyball, but she’s super dedicated to [Active Minds],” Hudnall said.

Hudnall comments on Freeman’s observed leadership qualities through leading events and discussions through the club.

“Anna has learned a lot of her leadership through volleyball because she’s grown up playing, and I think she can step into a room and make anyone feel comfortable. She’s one of the best team players I know,” Hudnall said.

Through leading the club in tandem, Hudnall and Freeman collaborate together on the club’s general operations, such as posting information on social media.

“She’s an amazing [co-president]. We are really good friends, so everything that we do, we do together. There’s not one thing that we do separately–whenever we make posts in Instagram or any type of social media for Active Minds, we always run it by each other and do it together,” Hudnall said.

Hudnall believes in Freeman’s leadership abilities both within and outside of the bounds of sharing leadership in Active Minds.

She’s a great team leader, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to run Active Minds with me. She’s amazing, all around,” Hudnall said.

Dana Dutched, Freeman’s varsity volleyball coach for the past four years, has observed Freeman’s leadership skills first-hand by seeing her on the court.

“She has been a leader on and off the court. She’s very competitive, so she challenges her teammates, and she is competitive and wants to win. Her strong force on the court [makes her stand out] because she’s [the team’s] number one scorer, so we’re always counting on her to score,” Dutched said.

In observing Freeman for so long, Dutched has had plenty of time to see how Freeman interacts with her teammates.

“She leads in the court. [Freeman and her teammates] are all friends on and off the court. They always support each other and hang out outside. But she also does on the court, she will challenge them or get on them when she needs to,” Dutched said.

Freeman may have a busy schedule, but she does not let any one part of her life define her.