Family First: Lehigh's Fitzpatrick Deals with Loss of Father

By Justin Lafleur, Lehigh Sports Media Relations

Lacrosse has the ability to unite. It has the ability to empower and the ability to heal.

The word family is a common phrase used within lacrosse teams. The power and impact of lacrosse goes far beyond what happens on the field.

Because of the special connection among teammates, the entire Lehigh women's lacrosse family was affected when hearing tragic news right before the season got underway. In early February, senior goalie Alexandra Fitzpatrick's father, John, suddenly passed away from a heart attack.

Alex's Lehigh family was there for her the entire time, attended the funeral and has proven to be a huge support system.

"We are a really close-knit family. Lacrosse brought us together and we've all bonded. We all connect even though we're bonded just by lacrosse," said Fitzpatrick. "We have a built-in family of more than 20 girls who love the sport that you love and have the same academic drive for success. My teammates have been an incredible rock for me."

"The team truly wanted to help Alex and her family in any way we could because she is the heart of this team and we all know how hard she works to always be there for us," said junior co-captain Kelly Scott. "In a way, it brought the team closer together and emphasized the importance of supporting one another, on and off the field. Having great friends and teammates is comforting to fall back on, and the positive atmosphere this family has created made it really easy to rally around Alex."

The Mountain Hawks are honoring Mr. Fitzpatrick this season by adding green tape on their sticks with his initials JF.

Fitzpatrick has made her mark at Lehigh in all areas: on the field, in the classroom and in the community, positively impacting everyone she comes in contact. Fitzpatrick's happy and bubbly personality always rises to the surface, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Whether struggles in a lacrosse game, season or most importantly, life, Fitzpatrick's optimism rubs off onto everyone around her.

"Alex has incredible optimism in the face of many different circumstances," said Lehigh head coach Jill Redfern. "If people are going to be out, she says don't worry, other people will get the job done. Even in a negative performance, Alex will find three highlights and make people feel good about themselves."

That optimism hasn't changed, and may have even increased this season.

"Alex is really mentally tough back there in the cage," said Redfern. "I think sometimes when you have the type of tragic event and loss that Alex has seen, it takes some of the pressure off as a goalkeeper because your perspective on life changes.

"At the end of the day, stopping the lacrosse ball isn't the most important thing."

Fitzpatrick began playing lacrosse in the seventh grade when her middle school gym teacher introduced her to not only the sport, but also to the position of goalkeeper.

"She came up to me and said I look like a goalie, take this goalie equipment and I'll see you on Monday morning," said Fitzpatrick. "The rest is history and I've loved every moment."

Alex seemed destined to be a goalkeeper. She's always had great hand-eye coordination.

"An important thing for me personally is my hands," said Fitzpatrick. "They're actually the quickest part of my body. My hands pretty much drive everything. They get my feet in position and my body behind the ball."

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