After a standout basketball career at Mount Gilead High School, Madison Fitzpatrick will look to continue her success in that sport with Bluffton University.
Fitzpatrick officially signed with Bluffton on Sunday at a ceremony hosted by McChesney’s Ice Cream Parlor in Morrow County. She said that she got connected with the school while competing in a shootout there last summer.
“It started when we went to a shootout there last summer,” she said. “We played a game and their coach talked to coach (Bob) Scott and he introduced us.”
She quickly clicked with Bluffton coach Chad Shutler.
“I made a visit and from there, he texted me after every game,” she said. “That extra effort made me feel like they wanted me on the team.”
She said that colleges had shown an interest in her since her sophomore year during travel season. She visited five, but noted that Bluffton came out on top whenever she thought about which one would be the best choice.
To get to this point, she put in a lot of work. She said that basketball has been a year-round sport for her.
“I would play in the fall and then school ball would start in winter and then travel ball took me all the way to July,” she said.
Fitzpatrick was a four-year varsity player for the Indians whose career culminated by being named a third-team All-Ohio pick in Division III, averaging nearly 20 points per game on a 16-6 team. She also was named a first-team player by the KMAC and Central District.
During her four years with MG, the team gradually improved from winning three games her first year to having the past season’s 16-win effort.
“We used to not have a student section at our games,” she said. “By my senior year, people were asking me when our next game was.”
She was proud of the work she and her teammates put in to get better over the years, citing both Scott and assistant coach Gary Miller for helping them raise their level of commitment.
“Definitely the level of commitment by the whole team,” she said. “Coach Scott and coach Miller made it clear that if you want to play, you have to come to stuff in the summer.”
Now she’s looking forward to the challenge of starting the process over again, saying that both playing as a freshman and as one of the smallest girls on the court at 5’7” will provide challenges.
“In high school, I wasn’t the smallest, but after watching college games, I’ll probably be the smallest on the floor,” she said. “And I’ll have to prove myself to my teammates that, yes, a freshman can play with them.”
She added that she does have a path to getting on the floor, as Bluffton did graduate its point guard from last year’s team.
“They lost a senior point guard, so that’s a major thing,” she said. “Coach Shutler at Bluffton wants me to take over at point guard as much as I can.”
Off the court, Fitzpatrick will major in nursing with a future goal of becoming a trauma nurse. She also is looking forward to meeting new people in a new location.
“It’s a different scene and a different town in college,” she said. “I like to meet new people.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS