With just one athletic season left in her four years at Harlem High School, senior Olivia Fitzgerald wants to make some noise going out the door.
She has been a Lady Bulldogs’ mainstay in basketball and soccer since her freshman year in 2010. Fitzgerald is doing her best to go out with a flourish as she has tallied eight goals while the girls soccer team has jumped out to a 4-0 start to the season.
“I’ve really liked playing for Harlem, I’m not ready for it to be done yet,” said Fitzgerald. “I’m going to try to go out big and do my best. I’m going to try to do better (in soccer) than I’ve done in previous years.”
Fitzgerald has done well in both sports over the years. She was second team All-Region 3-AAA in soccer her sophomore year. In basketball, she was second team All-Region 3-AA and honorable mention All-County her junior season. Postseason accolades haven’t been distributed for the 2014 season, but her scoring improved from 2013 from 9.5- to 11.6 points-per-game.
Fitzgerald lost her right arm from the elbow down in a lawnmowing accident when she was 3 years old but has never shied away from taking things head-on. When pressed, she would choose one sport over the other for a specific reason.
“Probably basketball, because it’s a little more challenging for me,” Fitzgerald said. “So I like to have a challenge.”
Taking on her particular circumstance has put her squarely in the limelight which comes with its own set of challenges.
“I’ve had a lot of people tell me I’m their role model in basketball and in soccer and that I’m a big inspiration,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s why I always try to do my best because I know other people look up to me. It’s motivation and it’s pressure because when I don’t do well, people will still tell me I do well, but I know that I don’t and that’s kind of frustrating.”
Girls soccer head coach Rebekkah Bullard has known Fitzgerald since middle schoool and loves all the different sides to her.
“She’s highly competitive but she also knows how to cut loose and have a good time, she knows how to have fun,” said Bullard. “She can be silly right there with the freshmen but serious out on the field which I really like about her.”
A self-proclaimed daddy’s girl, Fitzgerald says she loves to spend as much time as she can outdoors. While she likes to hunt and fish, she’s not exactly hardcore.
“I love animals – I know that kind of contradicts hunting – but I’ve only shot one deer. I usually just like to watch them. If it’s a nice one, I’ll shoot it. Usually I just like looking at them.”
She would like to go to college, but the potential biology major said she’s still looking for the right place.
“I hope to play basketball or soccer,” Fitzgerald said. “I’d rather play basketball, but if I go to a small school and play both that would be better.
I’m trying to get everything figured out.”