NEW CANAAN, Conn. – New Canaan gymnast Caroline Fitzpatrick has been a success at every level of her career. Next fall, she'll try to continue on that track at Central Michigan University.
Fitzpatrick, 17, is the latest athlete from Arena Gymnastics in Stamford to advance to the collegiate level. A variety of schools were interested in Fitzpatrick, one of only eight girls from Connecticut to qualify for this year’s Junior Olympic National Championships. Central Michigan, the three-time defending champion of the Mid-American Conference, had the right balance for Fitzpatrick’s academic and athletic interests.
“After I got there, I just loved it,’’ she said. “I felt very comfortable there with the coach [Jerry Reighard] and the girls on the team.”
Fitzpatrick has been on a gymnastics fast track since she started at Arena as a pre-schooler. She won the USA Gymnastics Level 9 Eastern National Championships all-around title in 2011, and also won the Eastern National balance beam in both 2010 and 2011. She advanced to Level 10 last year and finished second all-around in the state, where she also took second on the balance beam and uneven bars.
Arena coach Laurie DeFrancesco thinks highly of Fitzpatrick’s decision. “She’ll be able to contribute right away,’’ DeFrancesco said. “It’s a school that’s a perfect fit for her academically and in gymnastics. Central Michigan is getting a gem. Caroline is not only a beautiful gymnast who will score very well in collegiate gymnastics, she has a great work ethic and a happy, easy-going personality.”
The best part for Fitzpatrick is that she has her college plans lined up early in her senior year. “I’m happy it’s over,’’ she said. “I’m going to still be focused on my gymnastics. It’s nice to have this process out of the way.”
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