The South Hagerstown senior track star signed a letter of intent Tuesday with the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va., where she will receive an athletic scholarship to compete at the NCAA Division I level.
Her father, South track coach Dwayne Freeman, played football at the University of Tennessee.
“I remember in elementary school, my dad and I always talked about that. He went D-I and it always was a goal of mine,” Hayley said. “I didn’t know I was going to be a track athlete. I also played basketball and volleyball. I just knew I wanted to go D-I.”
At the Washington County Track & Field Championships last week at Boonsboro, Hayley scored a meet-high 38 points, winning the 100-meter hurdles, 300 hurdles and 400 dash and placing second in the 100 dash to lead the Rebels to a second-place team finish.
Her father, who also was a track star at South in the 1980s, helped motivate her.
“The county meet my senior year, I scored 40 points,” Dwayne said. “That’s something she wanted to do, and she almost did.
“It’s a competitive household between her and I. ... She’s hungry. I see a lot of myself in her. Our personalities are very similar.”
At South’s track practice Tuesday, Dwayne proudly wore a VMI shirt and hat as he coached his Rebels.
“I’m extremely proud of her as a father and as a coach,” he said. “It’s a heck of an accomplishment for the family and the school. In my eight years as coach here, this is our first Division I athlete. Hopefully we’ll have more.”
The VMI Keydets compete in the Big South Conference, and Hayley hopes she’ll fit right in as a 400-meter hurdler, although she knows it won’t be an easy transition.
“I feel like I work hard enough,” she said. “If someone’s beating me, I’m not the kind of person who just sits back and lets them beat me.”
“When she goes to VMI, it’s going to be tough,” Dwayne said. “But she has what it takes. Her best years of track are ahead of her.”
Hayley still has two big high school meets ahead of her — the Maryland Class 3A West region championships, which begin Wednesday at Tuscarora High School, and next week’s state championships at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
“I definitely want to go out with a bang,” she said.