Congratulations to Suzanne Fitzgerald, the BSN SPORTS Coach of the Month for September 2019!
- United States Marine Corps Veteran
- 14th year of coaching at Walton High School ; 20th year of coaching total
- 10-Time Georgia State Volleyball Champion
- 2017 National Champions (PrepVolleyball, MaxPreps, Volleyball Mag)
- 2018 National High School Coaches Association Coach of the Year
Coaches Corner: 5 Questions
1. How Did You Get Into Coaching?
I played in high school, but not at a high level…I went into the Marine Corps, came out and finished my master’s degree in teaching. At my first teaching job in California, one of the deals was that if I got the job, I would coach the freshman volleyball team. I took the job so I could get to bigger jobs as an English teacher…I was just in the right place at the right time…After my first year, the varsity coach left and I took over, and then I started coaching club, and things kind of just took off.
2. Who Was Your Mentor or Inspiration To Coach?
My dad sent me a copy of John Wooden’s book They Call Me Coach, and that book was – and still is – the biggest influence. It taught me humility, and the fact that as a coach you need to remain servant-minded. You’re giving to them, it’s not what the player, parents or anyone owes you, it’s about what you’re capable of giving back to others. He’s my No. 1 influence to this day.
3. What is the Biggest Challenge You Face?
The biggest challenge is effective communication on and off the court. Just helping parents and players understand decisions are made for what’s best for the team, as opposed to one particular child. Coming from a place where I want to try and create an equal experience for everyone, that can be difficult for me. It comes down to being an effective communicator, and staying open and transparent.
4. What is Some Advice You Would Give to a Future Coach?
Something I have learned is that you have to take care of yourself. It sounds like a selfish thing, but if you’re not mentally and physically healthy, you’re no good to anybody. Coaching is such a demanding job emotionally and physically, and sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves, and that’s going to affect the kids that you’re working with…also, keep in perspective that your players aren’t going to athletes for the rest of their lives. They’re going to be a part of society, and it’s important to help build that person, not just that athlete.
5. What Is Something You Want Others to Know About BSN SPORTS?
What I appreciate about BSN is that if there’s an issue, there’s ownership, and that’s really difficult to find with businesses today. The improvements and changes that have been made to what they do and how they’re taking care of customers – I’ve taken notice and I’m really appreciative of it. We have all our gear ready to go, so I’m super happy this season.