Lifelong passion for football drives Park City man
Brian Freckleton is passionate about football. For this Jeremy Ranch resident, the sport holds almost mythical appeal. "I can’t fully explain it, but I always knew it was the game for me," he says. A decade ago, his passion led him to create a youth football conference in Summit County that has been highly successful and may well become his greatest legacy.
He was born in Salt Lake City, the third child of Shirley and Kay Freckleton. He has two older sisters, Diane and Linda. He grew up in an area of the valley know as Poplar Grove, just west of the downtown area.
Freckleton’s parents owned and operated a large nursery in the area, called Louise Gardens. "It was named after my grandmother, a real family business," he explains. "I think I started working there about the time I started walking," he jokes.
"It was great fun. We had 22 green houses and raised a variety of annuals and perennials. I always liked working outside with the plants, especially the rich smell of the soil. It was kind of like working on a farm." says Freckleton.
The budding horticulturist eagerly awaited summers. "One month every summer since I was a little kid, the whole family would go salmon fishing in Challis, Idaho. Just like on a farm, we’d get our work done from April through June and then go on vacation. We’d take our camp trailers up there and have a great time. Friends and family would join us. It was, and still is, one of my favorite places," he recalls.
Freckleton attended Glendale and Edison Schools and went on to West High. He says he was an average student and "kind of a cocky jock."
"I started playing little league football with all my buddies from the neighborhood when I was nine years old," he says. I didn’t really excel at anything else. In school I tried band and glee club but wasn’t very good at either one. I liked football because of the camaraderie, the idea of being part of a team. Also, I loved the smell of the grass field on a fall morning."
"I played both offense and defense, but my favorite position was defensive end because that’s where the action was," he says. His crowning achievement as a player came in 1973 when, as a senior, his West High team defeated East High School for the state 4A championship. "Some of the guys on that team were the same kids I started with 10 years before in the neighborhood."
Freckleton met his future wife, Jeri, in high school. "I thought she was real cute but didn’t get around to asking her out until halfway through my senior, year," he confesses.
After high school, they both went to Utah State University in Logan. They continued to date off-and-on until 1980. She’s the love of my life," he grins. They have two sons, Beau, age 18 and Mitch, 15.
While his new wife went on to complete her degree, Freckleton went to work. "I’d been taking spring quarters off since I started college to come home and help with the nursery," he says. "In my junior year I came home and just never went back. I was anxious to find a full-time job and I needed to make some money. I had an uncle in the insurance business. One night he took me out to dinner and said he thought I’d be great in the business, so I gave it a try."
Freckleton was a natural. "I saw the value of insurance and estate planning early on and really was sold on it," he says. Over the next few years he completed his college degree at American College, considered to be the "Oxford" for insurance professionals.
His insurance business blossomed. Although busy at work and beginning a family, he still made time to help his dad every spring at the nursery. "He had that nursery right up to the day he died and I always loved working with him. That nursery was a huge part of my life."
Over the next few years, Freckleton focused on building his business and family matters. In 1992, he moved his growing family to the Park City area. "I’d always wanted to live in the mountains ever since those great family summers in Idaho. We built a home in Jeremy Ranch and we love it still. Sometimes when I walk outside I look around and think, man, am I lucky to be here or what!"
In 1995, he formed the Freckleton Financial Group, specializing in estate and business planning, as well as asset management. Through the years he’s risen to the top of his profession. He serves on the Chicago Study Group, an elite group of eighteen professionals that functions as a think tank for major estate planning organizations across the country. "We meet three times a year to research and study new ideas and new ways to help people with their estate planning and investment challenges," he explains.
That same year, he took on the huge challenge of building a youth football league in Park City and South Summit County. "I looked around and saw there was no place here for my kids to play football," he recounts. The game had been so important to me, I wanted my own children and other kids to have that opportunity. A lot of people told me that youth football wasn’t something that could be done up here. I disagreed."
Freckleton and his wife set to work creating a Ute Conference youth football program in Park City Utah. "We didn’t do this alone. Guys like Al Noertker, Richard Vincent and Scott Hardman helped make it happen. It was really a labor of love for all of us," he says.
"We started playing in the fall of 1996 and the program really took off," he continues. I got to coach and watch my own kids play, along with several hundred other kids from the area."
Freckleton estimates that over 3,000 Summit County children have played in the Park City/Kamas Ute conference since its inception 12 years ago. "The best part of it is when the parents come up and say ‘thanks.’ They tell me about how their kid was struggling in school and socially and that football turned him around. These kids learn how to be part of a team and they make a lot of friends. Our coaches tell them to go straight home after practice and do their homework. When you see that something you helped create has been so important to so many kids, that’s very gratifying."
Freckleton coached the Ute team his son played on to a 13-0 season in 2005. That team went on to win the conference title. He’s evolved from organizing and coaching to serving on the Executive Board of the Ute Conference. "I don’t get out on the field as much as I used to, but I still love to watch the kids play," he says. It’s really special to see a high school player out there who got his start in the local Ute Conference program." The Freckletons are huge Miner football and tennis fans, with a son playing both sports on both teams.
Freckleton believes volunteer service is important. He remains active in the Park City Rotary Club and served as the organization’s president in 2003. "The people in Rotary are great. They all share a common faith in humanity and believe in helping others."
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