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COC's Cassidy Fitzpatrick: Stock on the rise

Posted: October 27, 2013 9:16 p.m.
Updated: October 27, 2013 9:16 p.m.

College of the Canyons sophomore volleyball player Cassidy Fitzpatrick has 236 digs in 17 matches this season.

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As soon as Cassidy Fitzpatrick came to College of the Canyons to try out for the volleyball team, head coach Lisa Hooper knew she brought some intangibles to the table.

She possessed those attributes that coaches love: strong work ethic, competitive, good attitude.

But Hooper was unaware at the time how much this sport meant to Fitzpatrick and what the COC sophomore was willing to do to stay on the court.

Fitzpatrick was an undersized, hardly-recruited and relatively inexperienced player when she graduated from Hart High in 2012.

Now a season-and-a-half into her college career, she’s a skilled starting libero and a critical part of a team enjoying one of its best starts in years.

“She really impressed us,” Hooper says. “One of, for me, the best things about Cassidy is she is just really comfortable in a competitive environment. She like to play. She likes when it counts and she likes when it matters.”

The COC Cougars are 14-3 overall, 5-1 in the Western State Conference, South Division and ranked 20th in the latest state poll.

COC hasn’t won a conference title since winning back-to-back crowns in 1999 and 2000.

And at the center of it all, wearing the captain’s ‘C’ is Fitzpatrick.

The interesting part is, although she played four years of volleyball in high school, Fitzpatrick didn’t think much about the possibility of playing in college until she was a senior at Hart.

By then, it was too late in the process for her to realistically get picked up by a four-year school.

That being said, she still began to realize she wasn’t ready to call it quits on the sport she became infatuated with when she was introduced to it in ninth grade.

“It’s something that I’m really passionate about and I can’t see myself doing anything different,” Fitzpatrick says.

It was only after her high school career ended that she saw COC as a viable option.

“I think it was just about her liking the game and enjoying it because she loved the competition,” says Cassidy’s father, Bill. “She’s a fighter and she doesn’t like to give up on anything.”

Bill was the one who suggested Cassidy play at COC. He played catcher for the school’s 1981 state championship baseball team, which is in the COC Athletic Hall of Fame.

The school seemed like a strong fit for Cassidy, who was always a gifted athlete growing up, but not necessarily as polished a volleyball player due to her relative lack of experience.

By comparison, Cassidy started late. Many top-level players enter high school having already spent multiple years playing at the club level.

As time went on, the experience disadvantage became clear.

“I never thought that I would end up playing in college and would want to end up going to another school after that,” Cassidy says, alluding to the fact that she has aspirations of playing at a four-year school.

So she took her shot at the hometown community college.

And just like she did at Hart, Cassidy won over the coaching staff and quickly played her way into the starting lineup.

“I’m not surprised that she’s earned the captain’s spot because I’ve seen her in the past few years and I’ve seen her grow,” says Hart volleyball head coach Mary Keen, who coached Cassidy for two years on the varsity team. “It has to be attitude, intensity, do they bring the team together? There are a lot of other factors besides performance.”

Attitude and intensity? Check, and check for Cassidy.

Two weeks ago during COC’s match against West Los Angeles College, Hooper subbed out Fitzpatrick for the first time all season long.

After sitting out one play, Hooper notice that her starting libero was displeased.

She was not happy, and I didn’t really know to what extent she was not happy,” Hooper says.

The two of them later talked about it.

It wasn’t that Cassidy feared she was being replaced by someone else. She just wanted back on the court that badly.

There goes the intangibles again.

It’s those extra personality traits that can’t be taught. You have to be born with them or learn them at a young age.

“She gets pretty fired up,” Bill says. “If she gets in trouble or she gets yelled at. She doesn’t take it personally, but she gets fired up a little bit.”

But it’s that tenacity that has made her the type of player who can and will continue to play at a high level — perhaps higher than some expect.


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