Ross Fitzpatrick, kinesiology senior, started his soccer journey in the streets of Waterford, Ireland with the dream to play soccer professionally.
“My childhood was just playing soccer on the streets every day with all my friends, at lunch in school and after school just on the road or whatever small patch of grass we could find,” Fitzpatrick said.
Only a five-minute walk, Fitzpatrick and his dad would walk to the local club team, Bohemians, for the kid’s academy. When Fitzpatrick turned of age, he was able to put his talents on the field with his under-11 team.
“My local club team at the kid’s academy was a five min walk from my house so I was used to walking there every Saturday with my dad until I was about eight. I started training with my club’s under-11 team twice a week and played a game every Saturday,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick began his tread up to the professional league when he was 17 years old. He started at a semi-professional team, Waterford United, as a midfielder.
“I joined Waterford United U-19 team at 17, and they had a lot of financial issues with the senior team. Toward the end of the year, they had to let a lot of older players go. I just got lucky and got called up and was able to play two seasons with them in Ireland’s second most competitive league against men. I got to travel around Ireland playing against some excellent players and men. I was playing against fellas twice my age, so I loved it. It was crazy because I was in high school and some of my teachers were big Waterford United fans and came to watch us play every week,” he said.
It wasn’t until he was 18 that he had to make the decisions to come to America to play soccer in college.
“It was only really when I turned 18, and I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to move to England to play [professionally], and with how things were going with my local semi-professional team, that’s when I started looking into trying to play college in America. In Ireland, you go to college just to learn; we don’t really have college sports,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick’s big move to America allowed him to gain new friends, life lessons and new dreams. During his career, Fitzpatrick earned a spot on the DII Conference Commission Association, All-American second team and All-Region first team in 2017. Through all the awards and victory, Fitzpatrick gives credit to former and current head coaches Doug Elder and Michael Meachum for a “continuous demand on being the best you every day.”
Fitzpatrick lives through that command while he coaches for a local team in Wichita Falls with his childhood friend and teammate, Patrick Fitzgerald.
“Since I came here, myself and my roommate Paddy started coaching some local teams and I just really enjoyed it. I just found myself jotting down notes from our MSU practices and started to look into coaching more in case playing professionally didn’t work out,” Fitzpatrick said.
Due to COVID-19, Fitzpatrick’s goals for the future were put on hold for a professional league, but his interest in coaching has grown stronger.
“If the opportunity was to present itself, I would still take it, but my main focus now is to be a college coach,” Fitzpatrick said.