Fitzgerald receives Excellence in Coaching award
BEMIDJI, Apr 01, 2012 (Menafn - The Bemidji Pioneer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --When Kris VanWilgen Hammitt of Bemidji learned that Minnesota Hockey, the Minnesota Wild and 3M Company were honoring deserving youth hockey coaches, she knew who she wanted to nominate.
"My son, Tanner, had Bob Fitzgerald as a coach for three years and Bob was always a positive role model," VanWilgen Hammitt said. "Bob always had high expectations of his players but those expectations were always achievable. His practices were always challenging and always well planned. He also has the big picture in mind and there aren't many people I can say that about."
VanWilgen Hammitt sent a letter to the 3M Excellence in Coaching Recognition Progam officials promoting Fitzgerald and his influence with young hockey players. And those officials were impressed.
In February VanWilgen Hammitt was notified that Fitzgerald was one of 15 Minnesota youth coaches to receive the 3M Excellence in Coaching award. The rewards, in addition to a certificate, included a family outing at the Wild game, recognition on the Jumbotron at the Xcel Energy Center during that game and attendance at a Wild practice session next fall.
Fitzgerald's introduction to Bemidji hockey began in the early 1980s when he was a member of the Bemidji State University hockey team. Fitzgerald, a Thief River Falls prep standout, was a senior on the 1983-84 squad that compiled a 31-0 record and captured the NCAA II national championship.
Following graduation, Fitzgerald helped coach the Bagley High School hockey team and later became a coach with the Bemidji Youth Hockey programs.
Currently Fitzgerald is Bemidji's Bantam A coach.
The nomination form emphasized the ability to teach hockey skills, demonstrate respect for the opponents, officials and the game, display an emphasis on positive reinforcement and fun and the ability to share a passion for the game.
"I thought if anyone deserved this award it was Bob," VanWilgen Hammitt said. "He has coached for 27 years and has been involved with every level from mites to bantams. Bob has influenced many young players and has done wonders for youth hockey."
Fitzgerald recently received his award at a Wild game against Calgary.
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