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Tackle Cancer: Nate Freier, Red Wing football coach

Cancer and football. It is bringing communities together across the state to raise awareness and money to support Minnesota's cancer community. It's called Tackle Cancer and for one coach, you can add service to country as another way he's giving back.

RED WING, Minn. - Seventeen years ago last month., 9-11 happened.

"Nobody expected to go to work that day, or get on those airplanes that day and have it be their last day" says Nate Freier, Red Wing football coach. "I was in the Pentagon in Washington DC, in the Pentagon, on 9-11. I think what I learned that day is same thing I learned from my most recent experience is –you have to make every day count."

That most recent experience is cancer, diagnosed not long after Nate Freier moved back home.

"I grew up here, " says Freier.

Here is beautiful Red Wing. A place Nate called home over 30 years ago.

A place he loves, even in the pouring rain during an August football practice.

Nate is in his second year as the Wingers head coach. The job is a challenge he equates to his 20 years in the army.

"The best part of it is same reason I like being a platoon leader or a company commander in the army –is someone who can't see the way to the end –or someone who can't see the way to the goal and helping them see the way and then leading them there and taking them there," says Freier.

There, is football success.

"It was a pretty good time in Red Wing to be a football player," says Freier.

Something Nate Freier knows a lot about. 1983. Red Wing made it all the way to the big school state semifinals in football.

And Nate Freier was one of the Wingers captains. What goes around, has now, 35 years later, come around.

"My best friend from high school and the guy I was captain of the 1983 football team with now holds the down marker routinely on Friday night, and so I was back on the sidelines with him like we were 17 years old again," says Freier.

And when he's not on the field, he's still defending our country. Nate is a researcher for the Army War College. Right now he's working on the military competition in the Pacific between the U-S and China. He loves serving his country and this work pays the bills.

But this job (football coach). This job, feeds his soul.

"I'm pretty intense, hands on kind of guy," says Freier.

Nate loves football, and he embraces the life lessons the game teaches every day. And nothing, not even a surprise bout with prostate cancer, last year, can get in his way. Yes, he learned quickly, he's not 29 and bullet proof anymore.

"I would almost argue that was true until the day –until the moment I woke up from surgery –then I felt every 52 years and how many weeks, days, hours and minutes that is felt every bit of it after that surgery," says Freier.

But, he also felt the love and support of the Red Wing community. Nate is now cancer free. And this man of service is grateful for everything.

"I just know that –the greatest amount of personal satisfaction and growth comes from the things you do on behalf of others –and you do with others on behalf of others," says Freier.

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