Life has been a whirlwind for Special Olympics NC -Onslow County athlete Aaron Fitzgerald since Feb. 13, 2015. Sports is tops on the list of important things for this Richlands High School senior. For the past three years he has competed in as many sports as possible: Special Olympics basketball, bowling, golf softball and volleyball.
“Joining Special Olympics was the best thing we ever did for Aaron,” said his father David Fitzgerald. “He is a natural athlete and Special Olympics has given him to place to compete like he has desired to do his whole life. His confidence has grown and we’ve built some great friendships. It’s been a great experience for our whole family.”
Aaron also tried out for the Richland’s High School basketball team over the past four years. And unfortunately, despite getting very close at times, his name never appeared on the list of players to make the final roster.
“He was always so devastated after basketball tryouts,” recalled his father. “So it shocked me when he came home on Feb. 13 saying the baseball coach stopped him in the hall and asked him to come and tryout for the team.”
A week later, Aaron anxiously waited through a two-hour weather delay before he could head to school and find out his fate with the baseball team. Richlands Assistant Baseball Coach Garrett Smith was about to post the team roster when he saw Aaron and announced “Congratulations Aaron! You are the first name on this list and you are a member of the team!” Aaron was elated and his father admits the pronouncement almost brought tears to his eyes.
“I get a real charge out of seeing him enjoy the season,” said his father. “He loves riding the bus to away games! The players have been great teammates to Aaron. They’ve taken him under their wing and shown him some of the nuances of the game. When Aaron’s come up to bat they are louder than the fans. And Coach tells me Aaron gives 110% every day and he couldn’t ask for anything more so we are quite proud.”
With practice every day after school and games twice a week, the pace has been frantic and fun in the Fitzgerald household. Aaron will get his first start of the season at the team’s final home game. The Fitzgerald family will be there in force waving posters and cheering loudly! Aaron’s older brother Eric who attends UNC-Wilmington as a special education major is even bringing a group of friends to cheer on the Wildcats and witness his brother’s big night!
The whirlwind will continue even after baseball ends, two more huge milestones await, as Aaron will attend his senior prom and graduate from high school this spring. He also has big competitions on the horizon. He’ll travel to Detroit on Memorial Day weekend with his Special Olympics Onslow County Unified Volleyball team to compete in the US Open Volleyball Championships and he’ll travel to Raleigh for volleyball competition at the 2015 Special Olympics NC Summer Games. Then Aaron can finally rest in June and reflect on what has been a tremendous year!
Congratulations to the May-2015 Special Olympics NC Athlete of the Month!
Sports Team: NC State – seen lots of football and baseball games
Music: KISS – Aaron loves rock ‘n’ roll and has seen lots of live concerts including KISS three times
Season: Spring (baseball and volleyball time)