By Anthony Caruso
Ava Fitzgerald has found a home on the College’s lacrosse team over the last two years. The senior midfielder has been a clear leader for the Lions, recently scoring her 100th career goal.
But her collegiate career did not start that way, as she decided to stay close to home with her first institution.
She started out thinking that she was going to attend Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y. After committing to attend school there, she joined a list of seven players who transferred to Stony Brook University, two months after Adelphi head coach Joe Spallina became the head coach at Stony Brook.
“I guess you could say that Stony Brook chose me,” Fitzgerald said. “Without a clear direction as to my future plan, lacrosse was a large portion of my original college decision. Committing to a big name, successful program meant a lot to me at the time. Being that I had committed to Adelphi University first, the switch to Stony Brook happened pretty fast after finding out the coach was moving schools.”
After two seasons at Stony Brook, it was time for her to move on. Fitzgerald made the switch to the College, which she said was very necessary for her at that point in her life.
“After two years at Stony Brook, I finally had my priorities straight and could see a clear future path for myself,” Fitzgerald said.
She explained that she realized Stony Brook was ultimately not making her happy and didn’t have her desired major of Health and Exercise Science.
“Once I decided to make the transfer, TCNJ was the only school I could see myself at,” Fitzgerald said. “Having already developed a relationship with such an amazing coaching staff, I was comforted and excited knowing I would be playing for them. Knowing that this school had the major I finally saw a career for myself in, along with a very prolific lacrosse program, I put all my energy into making sure it would be the school I would attend after my transfer.”
At the Division III level, Fitzgerald has dominated with 67 goals in her first campaign at the College, which led the team in scoring. This season, as a senior, she has 39 goals with the Lions, including her 100th career goal scored on Tuesday, April 7 against Rowan University.
“To be honest, I hadn’t realized I scored my 100th goal until one of my teammates saw the article posted online after one of our games,” Fitzgerald said. “But what I can say is that having the opportunity to make the most of my last two years as a collegiate athlete has meant the world to me. Scoring my 100th goal was just a result of being in an environment where I love what I am learning and love playing my favorite sport again. I am a firm believer in surrounding yourself with people and things that make you happy, and once I did that, the rest just fell into place for me.”
Fitzgerald is currently second on the team with 39 goals. Fellow senior Kendal Borup leads the team with 55 goals. The eighth-ranked lacrosse team is 11-3 on the season with three games left in the regular season.
“The level of lacrosse at TCNJ is much like that of a DI level,” Fitzgerald said. “I think that the major separation for me is the decreased level of stress and increased focus on academics. Aside from making some amazing friends, Stony Brook as a whole was not the best fit for me. Transferring to TCNJ gave me the ability to chase my dreams in terms of my career, and to have fun playing lacrosse again.
The move was not only about academcis, though.
“The level of play at TCNJ is very competitive, always keeping you on your toes and I think that is one thing I love so much about it,” Fitzgerald said. “The athletes here play because they want to be here and because they love the sport, and surrounding myself with those people has only made the transfer that much more enjoyable.”