With the help of some natural resources, a little seed tucked under the spring soil can become a blooming flower, reaching its full potential.
For Riverside-Brookfield senior shortstop Kyle Fitzgerald, he didn’t need any sunlight or water to blossom. He just needed baseball, and a little encouragement.
It started since before he could even remember. Fitzgerald grew up in a household full of athletes. Both of his parents were student-athletes at the University of Memphis, and his older brother Kevin preceded him on the diamond at RBHS.
When asked about the role that his family has played in his progression as an athlete, Fitzgerald did not hold back in praising their work.
“[My family] just allows me to pursue my goals however I want to, you know?” said Fitzgerald. “They’ll let me go to my summer team’s facility whenever I think I need to, and they’ll encourage me to do what I want to do.”
While his immediate family has been nothing but a help these past four years, he also credits another place that he’s been happy to call home.
“Looking back, I could have gone to surrounding private schools, but I’m extremely grateful that I didn’t. [RBHS] gives me a positive atmosphere to be in every day and I’ve loved it,” he said.
Fitzgerald started his athletic career as a multi-sport athlete, excelling in soccer, football, and basketball as well as baseball. He decided to focus on just baseball, and it has paid dividends for the shortstop.
2017 marks his third year starting for the Bulldogs, with noticeable improvements each season. As a sophomore in 2015, Fitzgerald hit an astounding .374 with two home runs and 18 RBIs. Two years later, he has somehow built on all of those numbers. This season, Fitzgerald had a huge year offensively, with.447 batting average, seven home runs, 26 RBIs, .521 on-base percentage and .786 slugging percentage for the 20-9 Bulldogs.
His prowess on the diamond has garnered attention and given Fitzgerald an opportunity to play at the next level. He will be attending Northwest Florida State College next fall, a national powerhouse at the junior college ranks.
“The recruiting process was definitely an awesome experience, being able to talk to that many coaches,” Fitzgerald said. “It got difficult at times, but I think in the long run it worked out for me.”
Fitzgerald hopes to follow a similar path that Chicagoland neighbor and Providence Catholic alum Jake Godfrey took last year. Godfrey, a right-handed pitcher, played a season at NW Florida St. before transferring to Arizona State University this past season.
Regardless of what happens in the rest of his time at RBHS, or at the next level, Fitzgerald knows that he can credit baseball for being a lot more than just a fun game.
“[Baseball] brings out a lot of challenges that many people who don’t play the sport may not understand,” he said. “It’s taught me about how to deal with adversity and get better.”