The year was 1993. It was a great year for fans of Stephenville High School football. After years of smoldering in the cellar and taking a pounding from Brownwood year after year, the Friday Night Boys won it all and were declared AAAA State Champions. The Yellow Jackets finished the season undefeated and can fans went wild in the stadium at the University of Texas.
Shane Freels was a senior on the team and made all state linebacker, all district and MVP. Winning it all for the hometown was as good as it gets, he thought. He was contacted by several schools that offered him football scholarships and he chose Abilene Christian University. He registered in the pre-med program because he had always planned to become a dentist like his dad and someday go into business with him. Mike Freels, a popular Stephenville dentist, was his son’s best friend. He was a father who doted on his wife and kids, took the family on trips, played touch football, swam with them, practiced team-roping in their backyard arena and rounded them up for playdays at Morgan Mill. He was also an avid football fan.
When Shane graduated SHS in the spring of 1994 and joined the Wildcats football team at ACU, Mike and Rita took their family and went to cheer for their son.
Shane came home to Stephenville for the summer in ‘95 and enjoyed being with his parents and brothers Corey, Jake and sister, Amber. The family often played weekend cowboy and on July 22 Mike, Rita and the three boys, loaded up their horses for a playday in Morgan Mill. Only Amber stayed in Stephenville, having made other plans. That night the family was headed back home, joking, laughing and reliving the day when, in an instant, amid a tearing, jolting crash, their lives changed forever.
“When I realized that our truck had been hit, I jumped out onto the pavement,” Shane said. “I was sitting behind dad and I only had a small cut on my left arm but everyone else was hurt bad. I got Corey out and then there were other people all around us and someone got Jake out. I got Dad out and he was unconscious I put him on the ground and went back for mother. Her foot was caught and she couldn’t free herself.”
People were afraid the vehicles would catch fire, but Shane couldn’t think of anything but saving his mother. He rushed to her side, and whispering a prayer for strengthm was able to free her foot from the tangled wreckage and carry her to safety. He dropped to his knees giving his father CPR but his efforts and those of a bystander were unsuccessful. Mike Freels had died instantly. The loving father’s life had been taken; his wife left to bear scars for the rest of her life; two of his three sons were seriously injured… all the result of a drunk driver who also died in the crash.
“That’s when my faith had to save me,” Shane said. “I had to believe that there was a reason my life was spared and that I was able to do what I did. There were some very hard days ahead and so much stress that I wanted to forget playing football. Losing my dad was such a terrible loss for us all, that just surviving took all my strength.
“You know when something like that happens, a person says, ‘I wish I could have told him that…’. Well, just a few weeks before dad died, he told me that he was proud of me. I’ll always cherish that and hold onto it. He wanted so much for me that sometimes when something special happens, I just feel like, you know, that he’s looking down and watching me.”
Rita practically pushed her son out of the house and back to school, knowing that the family must go on with their lives. He played football two more years for ACU, transferring to Tarleton to finish his senior year.”
Shane changed his major after Mike was killed. He no longer wanted to be a dentist, he decided, but instead major in exercise physiology. After graduating at TSU he went to work for Stephenville Fitness Center and became the manager. After an offer from Cooper Fitness Center he moved to Dallas where he is a personal trainer.
Shane’s eyes shine with enthusiasm as he tells you about his clients and what they have been able to accomplish with the proper nutrition and exercise.
“Watching a person lose pounds and inches and become the person that they want to be is just a wonderful feeling,” he said. “You know that the person you are helping to live a better life has actually become another, a more satisfied person. You never see fat people in the photographs of our grandparents and great-grandparents. That’s because they got plenty of exercise and they ate good wholesome food. They grew their own vegetables and fruits and their food wasn’t laden with additives and preservatives. Today, people have to learn proper nutrition to go along with the exercise if they hope to be the person they want to be.”
Shane’s satisfied clients include Roy Williams, with the Dallas Cowboys who lost 26 pounds in two months. Other recent clients are Ross Perot Jr. and Darrell Johnston. He is the personal trainer for Sagana Diop, who has signed with the Dallas Mavericks.
Diop has been in the NBA for seven years. The Mavericks’ new coach, Carlisle is a run and gun guy so Diop knew that getting into top condition would be important to negotiate a contract with them.
“Diop is seven feet tall and weighs 300 pounds,” Shane said. “We have worked together for three months, five days a week, one and one-half hours a day. He has dropped 15 pounds and gained 10 pounds of lean muscle. He is going home to Africa for three weeks and he wants me to go with him because he told me that he couldn’t stay there three weeks and not get out of shape. So I am looking forward to the trip of a lifetime.”
Shane hasn’t stayed entirely out of football and last year agreed to be the backfield coach for an old friend who coaches at the Episcopal School in Dallas.
Shane and his college sweetheart, Monica, have been married for nine years and have four children, Isabella, Triton, Gwyneth, and Blythe. She is a stay-at-home mom.
“I absolutely love my life,” Shane said. “I get to do what I have my heart in and that is to teach people that they can have the body they want if they will get the right exercise and proper nutrition. I am 33 years old and I weigh 188 pounds, exactly what I weighed as a junior in high school.
“When I was growing up, I wanted to be a dentist because that was what my dad was but he told me that I could be anything I wanted to be and whatever I did, to just be happy doing it. I am doing exactly what I love doing. I like to think that he knows, and is still proud of me.”