Timberlane Owls Football '07

Timberlane goes with Fitzgerald

  • Currently 0.0 with 0 votes.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Kevin Fitzgerald has paid his dues at TImberlane for 12 years and is now the Owls' new head football coach. Fitzgerald is a rarity, head coach who didn't play high school football. » Jarrod Thompson, Staff Photographer

Saturday, March, 29 By Dave Dyer
Staff writer

Even Kevin Fitzgerald agrees that he has an unusual background for a head football coach.

"It sure is. It's a very unique situation," said Fitzgerald, who has been appointed as Timberlane's new head football coach, succeeding Mike Pariseau, who resigned in January. "I feel very fortunate that I got the support of the other coaches and the administration. I'm really excited about it."

Fitzgerald, 34, a 1991 graduate of Timberlane, played basketball for the Owls, but he never played football, and he didn't start coaching football until 1996.

"I started after I got a call from Coach Pariseau when another coach dropped out at the last minute and he needed someone to join the staff," remembered Fitzgerald, who teaches physical education at Timberlane. "I had been coaching basketball and baseball, and I thought it'd be interesting to coach football.

"When I got the call, I jumped at the chance. I always liked football, but I never had any ideas of being a head coach."

But Fitzgerald proved to be a quick learner and he gradually worked his way up through the ranks, primarily on the offensive side of the ball. Two years ago, when defensive coordinator Blaise Zambrano left to pursue college coaching, he took over many of his duties as unofficial assistant head coach.

By that time, he had begun reassessing his career goal.

"I started to give it some thought (to becoming a head football coach) three or four years ago," said Fitzgerald. "I started to feel more comfortable with what I was doing and I was earning the trust of Coach Pariseau. That was a big part of it."

His focus on football became obvious last year when he gave up his assistant's job in basketball, partly to spend more time with his wife, Meg, and young daughter Callie, but partly because football had become more of a priority.

"I had fallen in love with football and started to become addicted to it," said Fitzgerald. "I love the game-planning during the week, and there's nothing like the atmosphere of a game on Friday night."

When Pariseau resigned, his assistants met as a group and talked about who wanted the job and who would have a chance of being hired. They agreed to back Fitzgerald, who was up against some stiff competition.

"We had over 20 applicants, many of whom were head coaches and there were guys from New York and other states," said athletic director Bucky Tardif. "There were some very strong candidates. We brought six in for an interview and then narrowed it to two."

The other finalist, 60-year-old Sandy Ruggles, had an impressive resume. A member of the Massachusetts High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame, he made his mark at North Middlesex High School, where his teams played in seven straight Central Mass. Super Bowls, winning all but once. He also was head coach at three other high schools and, for five years, at UMass Lowell.

But the selection committee ultimately chose the candidate who it felt could best continue the program built by Pariseau in his 15-year tenure. Pariseau brought the numbers from the mid 30s to well over 100, compiling an 80-71 record that included Division 2 state championships in 1999 and 2001.

"I think the last three or four years, Coach Pariseau started to mentor Kevin," said Tardif. "The committee knew Kevin, he came through the school district and we saw a lot of support from the kids and the coaches. And probably the biggest reason (he got the job) is that he's a strong advocate of the student-athlete. I think he deserves it."

Pariseau couldn't agree more.

"He's bright, he communicates well and he's well accepted by the kids and the community," said Pariseau. "He'll bring some youth and enthusiasm to the program. I couldn't be more excited that he got the job."

Fitzgerald plans on continuing the general offense and defense used by Pariseau as well as his two-platoon system, although it's likely that star running back Derek Furey and standout lineman Brian Nicoll will continue to go both ways. He inherits a strong senior class, and a highly-regarded eighth-grade group is expected to join the program.

"I learned a lot from Mike, a boatload of Xs and Os, and we want to continue using the two-platoon system to give as many kids a chance at playing football as possible," said Fitzgerald, who hopes to retain the rest of the Owls' staff. "The thing I learned the most from him was the way he deals with kids, the way he treats them with trust.

"Mike did a lot of great things with the program. I learned so much from him, but I'll be my own guy and develop my own program."

0 Story Comments