“Catch!” Young Jeremy Fitzsimmons yelled as he threw the ball to his younger brother.
Playing catch in the backyard was one of their favorite things to do together. As the ball sailed over the grass back to young Fitzsimmons, he thought to himself, I bet I can throw it harder. He hurled the ball as hard as he could. It cut through the air and, to his dismay, hit his brother right in the head. His brother, fuming with anger, quickly grabbed the ball and whipped it back at Fitzsimmons as hard as he could. Before they knew it, their anger turned into a funny competition, as only brothers can do. It led to a dramatic game of catch where the goal was to try to hit each other with the ball.
The Fitzsimmons brothers’ love for competition led them into every sport imaginable: football, baseball, badminton, and even rugby in New Zealand. For Fitzsimmons, these early memories are what shaped his entire career.
Coaches In Every Season
During his childhood days, Fitzsimmon’s first coach was his father. “He was very competitive, but in a healthy way,” said Fitzsimmons. “He was the one who was always there to throw a pitch, catch a ball, or set up a volleyball net.”
In high school, Fitzsimmons got involved in any sport he could. It taught him valuable life lessons about resiliency, working hard, going after goals, teamwork, and leadership. These intangibles set him up for success not just on the field, but also in his personal and professional life. Then in high school, he met his second inspirational coach, Bob Weber.
“Weber was a tough coach and worked people hard,” Fitzsimmons shares. “Not everyone responds well to tough coaching, but for me, it was very motivating. I give him credit because he taught me to work hard to be successful. If you want to do something, go all in!”
When it came to college, there was no question that Fitzsimmons would continue to participate in sports. Through pick-up leagues and a Sunday volleyball league, he found that sports were not just an avenue for competition but an avenue for social development with others. His various sports teams allowed him to form valuable connections.
Leading On and Off the Field
All of the coaching, hard work, and involvement led Fitzsimmons to where he is now as principal and athletic director for Watson School in Watson, Saskatchewan, Canada. He is going into his eighth year in the position and would not change a thing.
“What brought me to the field of education was the desire to give back,” said Fitzsimmons. “The best way to give back is to give your all. Over the years, I have poured thousands of hours into these kids because that is exactly what was given to me by my coaches and mentors.”
As athletic director and principal, Fitzsimmons’ unique combined role allows for him to connect with students in all areas.
“I love seeing the students on and off the field,” shares Fitzsimmons. “They are the reason I love my job. Seeing their joy as they experience sports is so motivating. I also love working with the coaches who work with the kids, just like I love working with the teachers who instruct the kids. I feel I have a broader reach by overseeing both.”
His desire for a broader reach is what brought Fitzsimmons to Grace College’s athletic administration masters degree. He knew he wanted to see the sports programs succeed at his school, and he wanted to find a sports administration masters online program that complemented his role. With the athletic administration masters classes, he could implement the projects he was completing in his school in real time.
Finding an online option was important to Fitzsimmons in his hunt for the perfect athletic administration masters degree. In an administrative role, there are weeks it is difficult to just fit in three meals, and there are other weeks in the summer that are slow.
“Doing my athletic administration masters online gives me a chance to prioritize,” he shares. “I have to put my students first, which means that sometimes projects for my masters program have to wait. With this program, I was able to be at football games and tournaments. I felt I could be fully present for my students without giving up my professional development.”
Supportive Faculty and Family
Graduation is coming up soon for Fitzsimmons, and he knows he could not have continued coaching, carried out his professional duties as a principal and athletic director, and progressed in the Masters of Athletic Administration degree online alone.
“I have to give a huge shout out to Dr. Darrel Johnson,” Fitzsimmons exclaimed. “He gave such good guidance and feedback throughout my time in the athletic administration masters program. There was a tough season during covid, but Dr. Johnson was so understanding, which I know is something not every sports administration masters online offers. I know that I could confidently work at my own pace, and Dr. Johnson would support me. He is an amazing asset for Grace College.”
So, should you pursue the athletic administration masters at Grace? Fitzsimmons gives this advice: “Do well with what gifts you are given. If you need an art teacher, I’m not your guy. But if you need a coach, I’ll give it all I have! If you are passionate about sports, then the sports administration masters online degree is for you!”