AUSTIN (KXAN) — LBJ High School basketball coach Freddie Roland had big dreams growing up in rural Central Texas.
“People that had prestige, especially black Americans, was if you were a teacher, you was it. If you was a preacher, you was it,” Roland said.
There’s no question that Roland is “it” — as a teacher and a coach.
He’s been doing it for more than two decades leading the Jaguars to 22 straight district titles, three state tournaments and more regional tournament appearances than he can remember. LBJ won the District 25-5A Championship this season.
“I don’t keep up with numbers. I just play the games,” Roland humbly said.
But what’s more important to Roland than all the wins and banners is the impact of his family’s history in Central Texas.
“I’m from outside of Lockhart, Texas, at a little place called St. John Colony, and I’m really proud of that place because that’s where our slave family came at, bought land and made it a community,” Roland said.
Roland’s great-grandmother was one of the freed slaves who helped found St. John Colony.
“I’m standing on slave-bought land. It’s big,” Roland said. “We should never let our history die.”
Knowing his own family’s story, Roland also wants his athletes to learn their history.
“I talk to our kids all the time about history. I talk to them all the time about the things that they can accomplish. I talk to them about legacies and leaving something here that you will be proud of,” Roland said.
But Roland does more than just talk about it. As a black man coaching at a predominately black school, he’s a living example of what the students at LBJ can do.
“I always dress business-like. I wanted the kids to see that. I want our kids to see you can do good. You can do good when you help other people do good,” Roland said.
Being that example has kept Roland at LBJ, despite overtures from college programs and better-paying high school jobs.
“It wasn’t about the money. It was about these kids. Our kids,” Roland said.
Roland is a mentor, historian, and a coach.
“I do wear a lot of hats, I’ll tell you,” he said.
They’re all hats that he wears with pride.