Tennis coach serves up more than physical education

Mike Fitzgerald has been an educator at Skyline College for over 25 years, and still loves getting up every morning to teach students.

“The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful job,” Fitzgerald said. “A job that you like is a blessing from God. I’m going to do the best I can.”

Fitzgerald played tennis for seven years and says it’s his favorite sport because, he says, “I’m good at it.”

There are new tennis courts being built on campus and Fitzgerald is excited about using them.

“I am going to be the tennis instructor for the tennis classes here at Skyline,” Fitzgerald said. “I am considering starting a tennis team.”

Fitzgerald has seen all sides of Skyline College. He started out here as a student and a varsity athlete, and is in the Skyline Athletics Hall of Fame. Next, he was a parent of two athletes at Skyline College, Cañada College and CSM. He then came back to Skyline to coach here.

“I’m one of the only people that I know of in the district that has been a coach, parent, and student at Skyline,” Fitzgerald said. “Being a coach is the hardest because of the time and emotional rollercoaster you feel with being a coach, like the agony of defeat and competing so hard but not always being rewarded.”

Fitzgerald said that one of the most important things in his life is the Lord, but he won’t go into that unless asked by students or athletes.

“I’m a Christian coach,” Fitzgerald said. “Being a Christian is the most important thing in my life.”

Fitzgerald’s motto for life comes from the Bible.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight,” Fitzgerald quoted from the book of Proverbs. He says it is the one piece of advice he would give to students.

Fitzgerald started the fitness testing program at Skyline 22 years ago and has since measured thousands of students.

“I’ve measured 7,000 body compositions, 1,000 of those under water. I’ve taken 1,000 blood pressures, done step tests, and fitness tests, all to keep students fit,” he said.

Getting fit is the nucleus of Skyline’s physical education program, according to Fitzgerald, who transferred to San Francisco State University to earn his master’s degree.

Fitzgerald said he is a “type A” person who is codependent and likes to please other people. He also describes himself as a loving father. He has twin sons who he calls “top notch” athletes.

Last year, after 30 years of marriage, Fitzgerald’s beautiful wife Christie died of breast cancer. Fitzgerald said she had 62 chemotherapy sessions and he went to every one.

“She was the best earthly thing that ever happened to me,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald’s wife was the one who opened the door to Christianity for him. Fitzgerald said his father died the day he went to tell him he was getting married, and Christie showed him what God could do for him. Fitzgerald said after that, he was born again.

Fitzgerald is not only active in the Skyline College community but also active in the local Pacifica community and in his church. He says one of his greatest accomplishments is attending Bible study twice a week, every week, for 30 years.

Throughout his 25 years at Skyline, he has helped students get healthy, fit, and he still loves being a teacher.

“I get to educate and encourage and motivate students to get fit.”