The Fitzgeralds at the All-Star Game in Pittsburgh in their matching t-shirts in support of Katie Fitzgerald.
We are a hockey family. NHL hockey (go Blackhawks!) was watched by great-grandpa Fitzgerald back in the day of black-and-white TV. His six sons, Katie’s dad and uncles, began playing at the outdoor ice rinks with neighborhood kids. This progressed to leagues, and they passed the love of the game down to their children and then grandchildren. This love of the game produced three generations of Fitzgeralds that have played on teams in various competitive levels. Our current family star, and only professional player, is New York Riveters goalie Katie Fitzgerald.
At family gatherings, eventually the net and sticks come out and a basement, driveway or garage is turned into an all-ages hockey game. I think the hockey nets were a permanent fixture on Katie’s parents’ driveway for years. Katie in one net, her older brother Ian in the other. Even though she was the youngest and the smallest player, she could hold her own (probably where that competitive nature comes from).
Family members would always try to attend a game for each of the hockey players every season. The extended family had traveled to St. Cloud State University in Minnesota to watch Katie’s last game as a senior, and we were trying to coordinate a trip to a Riveters game. When we heard Katie had a possibility to play at the All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, we were thrilled. Not only was Pittsburgh a more doable distance for us from Illinois, but we could also help out with votes. Voting became a family mission, and even though Katie has the skill and talent, we like to feel we helped achieve it for her.
We could not have been more proud as 25 of us with our matching shirts made our way to Pittsburgh. We were able to watch her in the skills competition, but the best was when Katie took the net for the game. Now you have to realize in a big Irish family that if they love you, they are harassing you. So when we showed up to the game with our posters (Brickwall Fitzy on one side with the solid wall, and a piece of Swiss cheese with the appropriate holes on the flip side), it’s all part of the Fitzgerald family love. I did have to explain this to a few nearby fans who gasped when the cheese was raised. Every save was met with a deafening “woooo” and thankfully only a few hoistings of the cheese side. We presented her with the poster later that night.
Since the Riveters games are far for us, we settle for watch parties at home. The skill, dedication and enthusiasm of the NWHL players gives the fans an exciting game to watch. A few of us were able to attend the Isobel Cup semi-final game in Newark. Disappointed in the Riveters loss, we embraced the Beauts after their semi-final win and traveled from Newark to Lowell to watch the final. We were not disappointed; the Cup final was a great game.
Two members of the Fitzgerald family with their matching shirts and signs for the All-Star Game.
The back of the shirts and the signs made for Katie.
On almost any given day, Riveters shirts or jerseys can be spotted on the Fitz Family hockey fans in Des Plaines, Illinois eagerly awaiting the next season.