Robert Fitzgerald Jr.
Dr. Robert P. Fitzgerald Jr., also known as Bob or Coach Fitz, has been involved in wrestling since he learned how to walk. Since his father was the wrestling coach at Lawrence High School, and young Robert attended all the meets and most of the practices alongside him. His father was one of the first coaches to earn 100 wins, and he had a tremendous influence on Bob’s wrestling and coaching career.
Bob loved wrestling from the very beginning, starting out at the Lawrence YMCA at age 12. He was fortunate enough to have a great coach in Edward Salem.
Bob’s high school years were spent at Central Catholic High School. Since Central Catholic did not have a wrestling team at the time, he would workout at Lawrence and Methuen High, wrestling in tournaments independently when allowed. In addition to placing in every tournament he entered during his junior and senior year seasons, he was also an All-League football player, a member of the National Honor Society and graduated with Honors and perfect attendance.
The next stop was Boston College where Fitzgerald had four very productive years, eventually earning a Doctorate degree. While at BC he lettered in football, his team winning the esteemed Cotton Bowl one season, and wrestled as well. He was named team captain his senior year and earned Catholic School All-American status by placing in the Catholic School Nationals at John Carroll University. Bob was also inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, graduated Summa Cum Laude and was a finalist as a Rhodes Scholar. Upon his graduation in 1985, he was presented with the Dean’s Award for most outstanding student-athlete.
Transitioning to his role as Coach Fitz, Bob began his coaching career right after college with the Lawrence Junior High team. The team had struggled in prior years, but through hard work and dedication, continued on to win the Big East Tournament. Wrestling greatly benefited these young men, who otherwise may have dropped out of school. Many of them credited wrestling as the sport that gave them the tools they needed to focus, stay disciplined and graduate from high school.
Following Lawrence Junior High, Coach Fitz began coaching at Methuen High School. He was fortunate to work with some great coaches in Mike Bolduc, Dave Guselli and Bill James. Brian Urqhart, a fellow coach and a teacher in the school, also had a tremendous impact on the early success of Fitz’s career. Methuen wrestling went on to win over 300 meets, most of which came from within the highly competitive Merrimack Valley Conference. The team won many tournaments and league titles with their greatest accomplishment being the Division 1 State Champions in 1997. In his time at Methuen Fitz coached several sectional champions, 12 state champions, 2 New England champions, and 3 high school All-Americans. He was recognized with several Coach of the Year awards, including the 1997 Boston Globe Coach of the Year award. He also received special recognition for his outstanding work with Latino youth in the city of Lawrence, with the Lawrence Latino Lions Club Man of the Year award in 1991. Coach Fitz was later recognized and inducted into both the Massachusetts Interscholastic Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame and the New England Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame. He continued to work in school administration for over 18 years.
Since giving up coaching Fitz has stayed active in the wrestling community in several ways, namely by being a member of the State Rules Committee and by starting a wrestling program at the Lawrence YMCA. The youth wrestling program was very successful and played a pivotal role in feeding young, experienced wrestlers to the surrounding high schools. Many wrestlers of the Greater Lawrence Tech back-to-back state title team were graduates of this program.
When reflecting on his coaching career, Coach Fitz is proudest of the men his wrestlers have grown into. Many of the wrestlers he had were not initially vested in school, but through their association with wrestling they began to show interest in improving both on and off the mat. Several of Coach Fitz’s wrestlers were the first in their families to graduate from high school, with many continuing to become the first to graduate from college as well. They continued on to take up a variety of professions, many of them coaching wrestling at the high school level. Coach Fitz’s decades of selfless dedication to developing young athletes has compounded across multiple generations and communities across Massachusetts and beyond.
Lifetime Service to Wrestling
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