When the week began, Liberty athletic director Ian McCaw wasn’t sure if his head football coach Hugh Freeze would be able to make the trip to Cajun Field for Saturday’s non-conference contest against UL’s Ragin’ Cajuns.
Freeze missed several weeks of Liberty’s August training camp with a herniated disk. He then endured a “potentially life-threatening” surgery to fight a dangerous strand of staph infection at the University of Virginia Medical Center on Aug. 16.
But “significant progress” in Freeze’s health and cooperation by the UL athletic department made it possible.
“The staff from Louisiana has been fantastic,” McCaw said. “We ordered the medical chair and had it shipped here. It arrived on Friday. They took receipt and moved it up to the coaches booth. I really appreciated the cooperation from Dr. Bryan Maggard and his entire staff here.”
Freeze did not travel with the team. In fact, he didn’t fly out of Lynchburg, Virginia until 2:30 p.m. Saturday and then got an escort to the game at Cajun Field about an hour from the 6:30 p.m. start.
Liberty’s first game was a home contest at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg. Freeze “coached” that game from a hospital bed.
“The first game was more challenging having to coach from a hospital bed,” McCaw said. “He’ll be a lot more comfortable in this medical chair. It has the ability to sit up as a chair or recline back depending on he’s feeling.”
McCaw said he’s been impressed with how involved Freeze has been in the Flames’ preparation for the season, despite his medical condition.
“He’s provided great leadership to his coaches,” McCaw said. “He’s had a meeting by phone with his coaches every day except for that day he actually had surgery. He’s done a great job of communicating with them and relaying to them what they need to be doing. They’ve done a great job of keeping the energy up at practice and working with the players.”
McCaw said the transfer from the bed to the chair was due to Freeze’s progress during the week. The hope is Freeze will be able to return to practice soon.
“They originally said it was a four- to five-week recovery progress after surgery,” McCaw said. “This is week three, so we feel like he’s getting pretty close to being back.”