In An Alternate Universe, Star Trek: Lower Decks Captain Carol Freeman Would Have Had This Job Instead [Exclusive]

The U.S.S. Cerritos crew is home to "Star Trek's" most loveable (and crass) characters in the franchise. While the focus of "Lower Decks" is rightfully centered on our underdogs working below the bridge, there's a special mother/daughter connection to ensign Mariner (Tawny Newsome) and Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) that makes up one of the show's best emotional cores.

Mariner is one of the most headstrong characters we've ever seen on a Starfleet vessel, so of course, her mother is also a force of nature. In earlier episodes of the show, Captain Freeman might come off as stone-cold, but we've seen her come a long way — learning to manage her "Lady Bird"-esque bond with Mariner, advocating for herself when she was wrongfully arrested, and generally keeping her rag-tag crew Cerritos strong.

This week we had the pleasure of speaking with Dawnn Lewis about voicing Captain Carol Freeman, and she had some detailed thoughts on what the Captain would be up to had she not joined Starfleet. "If Carol Freeman hadn't gone into Starfleet, I think she would've been an NBA coach," Lewis said. "I think she would've tried to be the first female NBA head coach."

Carol Freeman's stern confidence would thrive in the NBA

Captain Freeman is a natural leader, orderly enough to thrive in diplomatic situations, but keeps a firm guard to emit a sense of ruthlessness to potential threats. We could totally imagine her being an NBA coach, passing on her knowledge to players and injecting into them her fierce and confident energy. "I think she would've surrounded herself with gigantically tall men and felt very comfortable barking orders at them because they could take it." Lewis continued, "She would be afraid of breaking women in the WNBA. She would be afraid of hurting someone's feelings — 'I really don't have time for that. We need to get this done. I don't have time for that.'"

Lewis's grasp on Captain Freeman and her boundaries is amazingly sharp. There's a great dichotomy to this character, yes, she's rough and tough enough to get the job done, but she possesses great emotional depth and empathy. In the fourth episode of season three, "Room for Growth," Captain Freeman worries she's overworked her engineering crew and orders them all to take a relaxing spa day. It hilariously doesn't work at all, but watching Captain Freeman's neuroticism over her engineering team's lack of ability to stop working is a great example of how she really does care for her crew's wellbeing as much as their efficiency.

A good coach should know that their crew needs to play hard to work even harder. That work/life balance is present on the Cerritos, whether the engineering team likes it or not.

Coach Carol Freeman would be the ultimate hypeman

What makes Captain Freeman the ultimate candidate for an NBA coach, however, is her great potential as a hype man. Lewis said, "She would've loved it because she could yell constantly. She'd yell at the players. She'd yell at the refs. She would just be yelling."

This is certainly something Captain Freeman shares with Mariner, who loves to chant "Lower decks! Lower decks!" in response to her friend's achievements. Shouting might not be effective communication in all workplaces, but on the Starfleet lines, as well as on the court, that enthusiasm is an essential part of leadership. Lewis concluded, "She would yell at everyone with authority and with good intentions to have everybody perform at their best."

While Captain Freeman needs to keep the Cerritos from imploding on itself in the meantime, we're obsessed with the idea of her being an NBA coach. If "Lower Decks" ever decides to have more wacky holodeck fantasy episodes, we hope to see Captain Freeman lighting up the court the same way she effortlessly commands the bridge.

"Star Trek: Lower Decks" is now streaming on Paramount+.