Life according to a high school football coach

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Whether you are on the field, in the stands, or in the hallways, Coach Tim Fitzpatrick is an imposing figure known to all.

He comes across as a man not to be messed with; a man that will make you shake with fear at the slightest mistake. In all honesty though, he is just a guy that really likes football and has a goal to make every student and every athlete a man of St. Thomas.

Coach Fitzpatrick’s father was in the Navy, so that means that during his childhood there was a lot of moving around the country. Every new move, meant new friends, and football was an easy way to make those new friends. After spending so much time through practice and games with the other football players, Coach Fitzpatrick really enjoyed the brotherhood that was formed from playing the game.

In Illinois, Coach Fitzpatrick played free safety for a successful high school, and during his junior year the team competed for a state championship. After a lot of hard work, he gained a full athletic scholarship to play at Rice University.

“College athletics is a different animal. If they are paying your way, they own you.”

Tim Fitzpatrick, Dean of Physical Education

Varsity vs Strake - 09-04-2015 - JMC 084
Coach Fitzpatrick takes a moment to gather himself at the Strake game

It was a huge commitment and a huge sacrifice, but he believes playing at the college level was worth it.

Like all kids who grow up with a football in their hands, he had a dream to play in the NFL, but Coach Fitzpatrick realized he was not big enough, and not fast enough. So he tried to go down the businessman route instead, and he did so for one year after college.

Although he found himself watching Rice practice after he was done with work every day. Coach Fitzpatrick says that, “It’s hard to walk away from a sport that has meant so much to you.” Eventually, the head coach for Rice offered Coach Fitzpatrick a job as a graduate assistant. “The next best thing other than playing the game, is coaching the game,” said Coach Fitzpatrick.

Being a graduate assistant at Rice was only the beginning, as Coach Fitzpatrick went to Samford University to be a defensive ends coach. In 1996, he came over to St. Thomas and coached for eight years. After a leave of absence, Coach Fitzpatrick came back to St. Thomas in 2010, and is continuing his reign of dominance on the football field to this day.

The regular day is a long one for Coach Fitzpatrick, as before the sun rises him and the other football coaches are here for the freshman practice before school starts. This is a huge commitment for those freshman, but Coach Fitzpatrick says, “In the long run it helps the kids develop more quickly, and get acclimated to life here at St. Thomas.” From after morning practice until 12:00, Coach Fitzpatrick teaches classes, and from 12:00 until junior varsity and varsity practice is mainly administrative work. Practice in the afternoon goes from 4:00 until 6:00, and afterwards Coach Fitzpatrick gets his son home, and relaxes until the next day. Coach Fitzpatrick says, “It is a routine. I love it. I would not want to be doing anything else than coaching here at St. Thomas.”

Coach Fitzpatrick has a goal for every kid he coaches, and that is to be a man of St. Thomas. “When we get them, they come from all walks of life, and we get that. When they leave here, we want them to have a strong moral compass, and a work ethic that will carry them through college and into their adult life,” said Coach Fitzpatrick. He wants to make sure that the football players actually enjoy their time here. The ability to beat Strake, or win a state championship is simply a byproduct of the hard work they put in all the time.

 

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Riley "The Bish" Bishop is a senior and Editor-in-Chief of the Aquin Yearbook. He will be attending the University of Georgia in the fall. He is currently on speed dial with the top 10 supermodels in the world. Check out his Hudl profile.

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