High School Football: A familiar face named new Warrior head football coach

Jason Freed has been named the head Brainerd Warrior Football coach FCriday, March 6. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Jason Freed is no stranger to head coaching responsibilities.

He’s no stranger to the sidelines of the Brainerd Warriors either.

Those qualities and more made the decision to hire Freed as the new head football coach of the Warriors football team an easy one for Brainerd Activities Director Charlie Campbell, who informed Freed of his decision early Friday, March 6.

Freed moves over from his defensive coordinator position he held for 10 seasons under retired head coach Ron Stolski. Freed called those 10 years invaluable.

“Ron is a guy who puts kids first and that will always forever be the philosophy and that will for always be my mentality,” Freed said. “I’m a relationship-based coach and coach Stolski always said ‘you put kids first.’


Freed said Stolski, who coached Brainerd since 1975 and coached a total of 58 seasons, was a great mentor and synonymous with Minnesota football.

“I picked up a lot of nuggets,” Freed said. “He was one of those guys, where you may not have thought about it at first, but after a while, you picked up on those little nuggets along the way and realized, that’s really good stuff.”

Along with creating positive player relationships, Freed said it’s his staff’s job to build young men who are assets not only to the football program, but to the school and community.

It’s not the first time Freed has been trusted with this responsibility. Freed started coaching in 2003 at Houston, Minn. and became the school’s head coach in 2004. He led Houston to the 2008 State Nine-Man title.

Freed, a Brainerd High School social studies teacher, came to Brainerd in June of 2009 and coached the sophomore and junior varsity teams for one year. In 2010 he was promoted to defensive coordinator where he’s been since.

“This is definitely two, way different situations,” Freed said. “When I was at Houston, we’re talking a small school -- a town of 1,000 people and a program that had been in a tough go for many years. It was definitely a situation where you had to work from the ground up and completely revamp and redo everything. Here in Brainerd, there is such a strong foundation and tradition that we are going to focus on where we need to improve.”

Freed’s first priority will be to his staff where he not only has to fill his old position, but those of long-time assistants Chet Stevenson and Scott Parsons, who also retired this year.

Then the focus turns toward the players.


“We’ve been doing that since coach Stolski announced his retirement in January,” Freed said. “Coach (Troy) Nelson and I have been working with the kids and communicating with them along the way through this whole process. We’re getting the groundwork laid with the kids. Now as a head coach I can work on my message and where we need to go, what we need to do and how we need to get there.”

Freed said he’ll then evaluate the entire program top to bottom. One area he’s picked right away is numbers.

“We need to build our numbers up,” Free said. “We’ve had a dip in some numbers and that will be a primary focus. How can we build those numbers up from our youth level all the way up to the varsity level? We’re one of the largest schools in the state and so we need to really focus our efforts on how we can build the Warrior football brand and get people excited about it at a youth level all the way through middle school and continue to keep players into the high school.

“With the size of school that we are, we need to have more kids out for football.”

Freed is unsure if he’ll continue to be the defensive coordinator. He said he’s going to evaluate the entire staff and see what is the best fit.

The Brainerd activities department received 12 applications and interviewed four candidates.

“This wasn’t a hard decision because we went through the process and Jason clearly separated himself from the rest of the pool,” Campbell said. “His previous experience as a head coach, winning a state championship, but beyond that success, Jason really articulated a great vision for continuing on and advancing the foundations of a really strong Warrior football tradition that coach Stolski created.”

Said Freed: “This is exciting. I’m super excited and super passionate about football. It’s in my blood and it’s never going to go away. It’s a new chapter in my life which is super exciting for myself and my family. Everybody within Warrior football, I think there is going to be a lot of excitement, but at the same time understanding it’s a process. We’re going to have goals and we’re going to work toward those. Ultimately, our main goal is to continue the Warrior tradition. Everybody knows what that is, but with a new phase and a new era and that will be exciting.”


Jason Freed

Who: New head coach of the Brainerd Warriors football program.

Former: Defensive coordinator at Brainerd for 10 seasons.

Past: Head football coach at Houston, where he won a state title in 2008

Family: Wife Emilee, daughters Macin (sophomore) and Hayden (seventh-grade)

Occupation: Brainerd High School social studies teacher

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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