By Jeffrey Marx
Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Marx is the author of “Walking with Tigers: A Collection of LSU Sports Stories” and five other books. You can follow him on Twitter: @LSUTigersBook
The “Heart Has No Limit” message started as a personal reminder.
Cole Freeman’s self-directed slogan told him exactly what he needed to hear – that any lack of size or strength would never define his baseball journey because nobody could measure what he had in his heart.
So what if the former LSU second baseman is now listed – generously – at only 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds?
His hard work and passion-filled heart carried him from Delgado Community College to LSU to the Washington Nationals organization – and now his Heart Has No Limit message is also reaching a new level.
Freeman – soon to begin his second full season in minor-league baseball – is introducing a new program to honor young Heart Has No Limit “ambassadors” who will help spread his message across the country.
“I want to keep using Heart Has No Limit to encourage and inspire people, especially young people who could always use something extra to keep them on track,” Freeman says. “And this is not just about sports.”
“It is about setting goals and staying locked in on them no matter what anyone else thinks or says about them. It is about choosing the life you want to live and then always putting your heart into making it happen.”
As an LSU Tiger for two seasons – starting all 138 games in 2016 and 2017 – Freeman did exactly that. It was not only his .321 career batting average and stellar defense that made him a crowd favorite. Fans were also drawn to his combination of hustle on the field and kindness off the diamond.
The Heart Has No Limit slogan became popular enough to have its own hashtag – #HHNL – when Freeman played for the Tigers.
After being picked by the Nationals in the fourth round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Freeman developed and released a line of Heart Has No Limit clothing.
Sportswriters and broadcasters often asked him about HHNL. And young fans started writing Freeman to share their own Heart Has No Limit stories.
That’s what gave him the idea to start an ambassadors program. It is being launched with three initial ambassadors:
** Meritt McKittrick, 17, of Godley, Texas, who was in a car accident that left her paralyzed – from the waist down – when she was only 5. She now excels in wheelchair sports.
** Lincoln Forges, 18, of Apopka, Florida, a heart transplant recipient and cancer survivor who nonetheless graduated from high school last spring – on time and with a 3.3 grade-point average – and now attends the University of Central Florida.
** Layken Sanders, 20, of Troy, Alabama, long doubted as a volleyball player because she was “not tall enough” but later honored as best setter on her high school team (and now attending Lurleen B. Wallace Community College).
Freeman will continue to spread his HHNL message during interviews and when delivering motivational talks to student groups and high school teams.
Ambassadors will be added throughout the year as Freeman continues to hear from fans. Anyone who wants to share a personal HHNL story can send it to Freeman via his website: www.hearthasnolimit.com.
“I love hearing the stories,” Freeman says. “That’s the whole idea – hearing the stories of others and then sharing them as a way to keep inspiring more and more people.”