Fallyn Freije is currently in the transition of finishing up her fifth year of college online and preparing for her next steps in basketball. She will graduate this May with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology along with a Pre-Dental emphasis. Freije grew up in a small town in North Dakota with a population of around 175 people. She went on to play at two Division I schools, and had an extremely successful career. Freije is going to play professionally in Europe after graduation.
How did you first become interested and excited about basketball?
I first became interested in basketball at a very young age. My mom was the coach of my older sister’s elementary travel team and I was able to be a part of it and play up two grade levels. I didn’t get to play much, being I was so much younger and smaller at the time, but eventually as I grew older, I was a main player alongside my sister during our older elementary and middle school years. I cannot remember a time of my childhood that I wasn’t interested in basketball. I was always trying to work on ball handling in our driveway and playing "PIG" with my mom and my dad who were both talented basketball players. In high school my love for the game continued and my dad coached our high school team, where my older sister and I played together for three years.
What roles have you played on the teams in your career?
I have played a few roles during my career. In high school I was starting games as an eighth grader and was the main player. However, it was also my role to cheer on my teammates and stay very humble and hardworking given I was so much younger than many of my teammates. As my freshman year of college season came, I was coming off the bench and would play around nineteen minutes a game. It was a different role than I ever had experienced, however, it was expected and a role I was prepared for. I encouraged teammates by being the first one to high-five girls when they subbed out.
Leading by example for the rest of the girls was my role that year. The next three years of my college career I was in the starting line-up. However, the encouraging, the high-fiving, and the leading by example never stopped. To be a great leader, there are so many important roles to do aside from scoring and other game stats. I was a captain the last two years of my college career, which isn’t as glamorous as people think. You are expected to be your best every day, check in on your teammates, make sure everyone knows the playbook, etc. There is a great responsibility with being named “team captain.” I enjoyed every minute of those responsibilities and thrived in that role.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have faced and how did you get through it?
The biggest obstacle I faced was transferring after my junior year. It was a tough decision knowing I only had one year left of eligibility and there was a chance that there wouldn't be a Division I school willing to take me. I prayed a ton about it, and trusted God in the process. I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I made in my career. It was hard to leave all of my best friends and former teammates. However, when I started to adapt to Montana State University, I realized all the new “good things” it was bringing to my life. I was able to be a better basketball player with a dramatic change in the coaching staff and their approach to us as players and people. I was growing in my faith, being more involved in the church and leading our Athletes in Action huddle for MSU athletes. It wasn’t easy at first, but now looking back almost two years later, it was life changing for me as a person and a player.
You recently announced that you will be playing professional basketball in Europe. How did you get to this point? What has been the biggest reason for your success?
I signed with an agent shortly after our season was cut short due to COVID-19. He has been amazing to work with and we have talked about my future wants and desires as a professional basketball player. I will be heading to Europe in August/September if things go as planned with the virus. I am unsure of the team/country I will be on, as that is what my agent is working on currently. I always dreamed of playing after college. Looking up to many great female college basketball players and WNBA athletes growing up, it was always a goal of mine. It is crazy that I am completely done with college basketball and the next dream is coming to life!
The biggest reason for my success has been my work ethic. I believe that if you put in the work, the results will show.
Someone can be not that naturally talented or skilled, but if you put time and work into it, you can get there. A big part for me was believing in myself. I failed many times in games and practices, but I never let it keep me down. I remember in high school I would go to the gym when we got home from games if I performed bad or missed shots that my team counted on me to make. I would watch my game film and study it before our next game. I have continued those things into college which I think has given me great success. I am a student of the game, and developed my high IQ through studying game film and watching videos of the best female players at the time.
It is important to know you will fail and you will fall short. But if you rise up, keep grinding, and make yourself better in all ways possible, success will follow.
What does it mean to you to "defend rights" when it comes to women equality in sports?
Just because we are women, doesn’t mean we should be treated differently. The grind is the same. The hours spent developing our craft is the same. Watching our diet, doing the off-court stuff that is critical to success, IS THE SAME. We prepare very similarly, yet we are told we are less than. Yes, basketball games are not exactly the same when comparing men vs. women, but both bring a unique craft that needs to be more appreciated on the female side.