Marcia and Joe Freeman have made Ball State more than just who they cheer for on game days; more than just their alma mater, and more than just a campus they love to visit. Marcia and Joe have created a family at BSU. Made up of collegiate women’s athletes, their coaches, and other sports staff, this family deeply cares for and supports one another during the highs and lows of the sports season and school year. Marcia and Joe are the number one fans of the women’s sports team’s at BSU. They host Occasional, weekly small groups, and Marcia has even performed the weddings of 21 athletes years after graduation. Although Marcia and Joe are not on the court beside the athletes, they have made themselves part of these different teams to provide emotional support and care to the women that represent Ball State. As mentors, Marcia and Joe have touched the lives of countless young women, as well as Ball State staff, and have single handedly created a culture of compassion and love within women’s athletics.
“All we want is to promote the goodness that Ball State has to offer to all of its students.” – Marcia Freeman
Marcia and Joe both have educational roots at Ball State. Marcia has obtained several degrees from BSU, including two undergraduate degrees, two master’s degrees, and is presently pursuing her Ed.D. in Adult and Community Education set to graduate in December 2025. Previous to Ball State, Marcia attended seminary and served as a licensed minister for twenty-three years before retiring in February 2023. Her degrees in counseling and religious studies from Ball State granted her a unique perspective on the world and allowed her to hold greater understanding for people. This, in part, inspired her to pour into the community around her and foster relationships with student athletes. In addition to her ministry, Marcia served as the Vice President of a wealth management firm, from which she retired in 2015. Now as a full-time student, Marcia loves being back on campus and interacting with students. It brings her a great deal of joy to see the young people around her turn into full fledged adults that are prepared to take on the world.
Joe followed a nontraditional path as he returned to Ball State to get his degree in computer science at age 28.. He managed to pay for his entire education out of pocket by working through school. He graduated in 1984 and eventually returned to work at Ball State after marrying Marcia. During his tenure at Ball State, Joe loved getting to serve the institution that provided him with the opportunities he needed to be successful. He has been taking action photos of the athletes for the last 25 years. All this to say, Marcia and Joe’s Ball State legacy started long before they got involved with the women’s athletic teams. Their devotion to Ball State began when they were both students and got to experience firsthand how the university could impact lives.
“We just love Ball State and the energy that the athletes bring to our lives. We bleed cardinal red.” – Joe Freeman
Their Ball State Family
Marcia and Joe have been supporters of Ball State women’s athletics for over 25 years, but they decided to take the next steps and support women’s teams both on and off the court. With their children grown and out of the house, they wanted to find ways to support the young athletes besides just showing up to games. After dedicating themselves to attending most, if not all, of the women’s sporting events, they got to know the coaches and athletes over time. Eventually, this sparked close personal relationships that would lead to this family that they have developed. They decided to get involved in the different women’s teams including volleyball, basketball, swim and dive, golf, and field hockey.
Marcia served on the Cardinal Varsity Club board and got involved specifically with the women’s basketball team. She helped the coach advocate for the women’s teams as well as many other projects. Eventually, between this and Marcia and Joe’s attendance at the games, they received an invitation to the pre-season banquet for the athletes where they met a basketball player named Julie Just and her mother, and that was the beginning of this whole story for them. There, they got to know the coach even better and interact with the students in a more personal manner.
From this point on, their dedication and relationship to the young women of BSU grew. Joe stated that, “A lot of times these girls come to campus and are homesick or unsure of their place here. Then, in walks this older couple that just wants to encourage them and tell them it will be alright.” Marcia and Joe don’t expect anything in return from their athletes, they just freely offer support and they leave it up to the girls if they want to form a closer relationship. Marcia and Joe particularly have a heart for the international students that come to play on Ball State’s athletic teams. Far from home and in a new place, Marcia and Joe open their home and serve these players a good home cooked meal if they ever need it.
“I like to think I am their friend, mother-figure, and just a shoulder to cry on all at one time. We can be there for them when times are hard and they don’t know who to turn to.” – Marcia Freeman
Affectionately titled their “Muncie parents,” Marcia and Joe open their home to the teams at least twice a year for the whole team to come and relax. Marcia also holds small groups to foster community between the athletes. “We see these girls come in at 18. They are nervous freshmen and then they leave for years later as confident young women. Each one of them has been such a blessing in our lives.”
“I could write a book about all the moments over the last twenty five years that have touched my heart or made me cry. So many amazing things have come out of these relationships. Without Ball State, our lives would look a lot different.” – Marcia Freeman
Additionally, it is not just the athletes that receive support from Marcia and Joe. The head women’s basketball coach, Brady Sallee, also has a close personal relationship with the couple. “It is not unusual for Brady to come straight from the press interview after the game to where we are to give us a hug.” There is a deep level of trust between the coaching staff and Marcia and Joe, as the coaches have completely accepted them as part of the team.
“The icing on the cake to all of this is that years later, we have athletes and coaches returning to us asking if Marcia can perform their wedding ceremonies.” In fact, she has two BSU weddings in July 2023. Marcia and Joe have had the honor of mentoring and performing premarital counseling for 21 athletes and three coaches, as well as performing their weddings. Marcia flew to Texas to marry a basketball player and her now husband. While Marcia performs the actual marriage, Joe stands off to the side taking pictures of sweet and simple moments that the photographer may miss and he gives them to the couple as a gift following the wedding. Premarital counseling takes about six months where the couples share deep things with Marcia. “It is such an honor to be able to listen to them and guide them through this new transition that is approaching. Their stories are very close to my heart.”
Overall, Marcia and Joe have become integral parts of the Ball State women’s athletics community. Their dedication to and heart for the teams and the athletes as well as Ball State as a whole is incredible. They have touched the lives of so many young women and are excited to continue this service for many years to come.