Taping his way to fame

Taking a look at Elder’s unsung hero: Jeff Fitz

Fitzy, Mr. Fitz, Jeffery, Fitz, Jeff. Whatever you want to call him, nearly every Elder student has or will have the pleasure of coming into contact with our head athletic trainer, Mr. Jeff Fitz. Seeing that Fitzy is the yin to Elder’s yang, I decided to go straight to the man himself to give the people what they want to see: a spotlight on Elder’s own Jeff Fitz.

image courtesy of cincinnatisportsmed.com

Surprisingly, athletic training was not the field Fitz thought he would enter at the beginning of his college tenure.

“In my first two years of college I was actually studying to be an engineer, and I had to work a steady job,” Fitz explained. “I was working in the athletic and phys ed department at the branch campus I went to. Somehow I ended up giving treatments and taping as well as lining the soccer field and what not. It was gratifying when someone you had worked with was able to return to play.”

Fast forward to the present and Fitz has been the head athletic trainer at Elder since the 2006-2007 school year. While that seems like a long time, he says his goal is to work here for 15 more years and retire at the young age of 70.

With the various sports across Elder’s athletic spectrum needing to be covered by Fitz, the schedule admittedly gets a little hectic. “The toughest part of my job is the constant schedule changing,” Fitz said.

While the toughest part of the job might be easily identifiable, with so many great aspects of being our athletic trainer it’d be hard for one to guess his actual favorite part about what he does. Sitting in his office rocking out to Lynyrd Skynyrd, imparting his knowledge on the various student trainers that come to study and work at Elder, or the adrenaline rush as he half jogs/half speed walks out onto the field on a Friday night to assist a player would all be justified guesses, but they wouldn’t be correct.

the trademarked ankle pat

Fitzy told me that the best parts of his job are the relationships with the athletes. Wow. Truly heartwarming. One man that has had a strong relationship with Mr. Fitz during his time here at Elder is senior Max Lenhardt, so I decided to get his take as to why Fitzy is as remarkable as he is.

Max always seems to be coming to Fitzy with some type of nagging injury. So, he spends a lot more time with our trainer than the average Joe. So much time that Lenhardt even described Fitzy to be a father figure in his life.

When asked what makes him assured when he goes and sees Fitzy a countless amount of time, Max provides a strong testament for Fitzy’s character: “Fitz is just always there for me and he’s eager to serve the community. You can go to Fitz with just about anything.”

Lenhardt’s appreciation for Fitzy was taken even a step further with his next comment. “After countless prayers and hours of consideration, I have decided to name my first born son after Fitzy. If there’s one person I would want my son to be like, it’d be Jeff Fitz.”

Another person who knows Mr. Fitz like the back of her hand is Elder’s other athletic trainer, Aimee Bruketa.

“It’s really an honor and a privilege,” Aimee said, when asked what it was like to get to work with the legend every day. “His wisdom is overwhelming some days. Jeff and I just generally think along the same lines. We rotate through to attack the different jobs that are presented to us.”

The only time the two really butt heads is when it comes to Fitzy’s hoarding habits. “Jeff wants to keep everything for decades,” Aimee smiled. “If we had a bigger training room, it’d be one thing. But our space is very limited. We can’t keep everything.”

Most of the time, however, the two get along in harmony.  “I keep reminding you guys how privileged you are to have such an experienced head athletic trainer.” Very true Aimee, very true.

The Elder student body is truly blessed to be the covered by one of the best in the land, Mr. Jeffery L. Fitz.

Fitz on receiving the call that he won the Best Hair on an Athletic Trainer Award: “I’ve always had good flow, so I’m not surprised.”