Her father is a former high school soccer coach, her mother a former high school and recreation basketball coach and her grandfather a former high school baseball coach.
Plus, Devon Fitzpatrick has her actual coach on the Bordentown High girls basketball team.
“Oh, she definitely gets more advice than she needs,” said her mom, Beth, the one-time West Windsor-Plainsboro South girls’ hoops coach. “And Devon isn’t afraid to speak her mind also. But over the years she’s really learned to take it all in stride and is open to the advice. She didn’t have a choice.”
The result has been a solid soccer player who hopes to play in college, and a poised and heady basketball player whose biggest drawback is that she is too unselfish when it comes to the offense.
“My biggest expectation of her is leadership on the floor,” Scotties coach Bill Lloyd said. “You look at her parents being coaches. One of her best attributes is, she’s kind of like a mini coach on the floor. She’s the one getting us into our defensive sets, sometimes slowing things down. That’s what I’m mainly looking for from her.”
Coaching is definitely in the Fitzpatrick genes. Her maternal grandfather, Vince Ardery, was a highly successful baseball coach at Notre Dame in the 1970s and ’80s before becoming the Neptune athletic director. Her dad, Sean, rebuilt a moribund Hamilton West boys’ soccer program back to respectability; and Beth has pretty much been her basketball guru.
“I didn’t start playing basketball until around fifth grade,” Fitzpatrick said. “But I feel like I was able to pick it up quickly because I had been around to watch my mom coach teams, and I kind of saw what she did. Even though my skills weren’t quite there yet, I understood it.”
Fitzpatrick was too young to watch Beth coach WW-PS, but when she began playing , Beth “just picked up every single one of me and my brother’s teams. She coached me in Bordentown Rec, in CYO and we had an AAU team for one season.”
The family members are technically all just spectators now, but Beth is not adverse to sending a text or two after a scrimmage, while Vince goes old school.
“He’s at my scrimmages, he’s giving me notes,” Fitzpatrick said.
It’s all for the greater good when it comes to this family.
“My mom definitely had a big impact,” Fitzpatrick said. “She helped me understand it she explained it very well. And my dad helps. We’re a very sports oriented family, I like that because I get to see a lot of different perspectives, and it helps me understand the sports better just because I hear their view as coaches. I don’t just see my view as a player.”
The good news is that the information she receives, does not contradict itself.
“Luckily, we’re very consistent with our advice,” Beth said.
And the biggest recommendation Fitzpatrick gets from all concerned is to shoot the ball more. While it’s usually not difficult to get young players to chuck up shots, she is more of a defense-first type of player.
“I’ve talked to her about being a little more offensive in her thinking this year,” Lloyd said. “Sometimes it’s a hurdle getting her to believe it’s going to go in. Just getting her to take a shot is sometimes a hurdle. “
How can that be? Why wouldn’t a kid want to score?
Don’t ask her.
“I don’t know,” Fitzpatrick said with a laugh. “I always seem to be very defensive minded. Hopefully now that we have more bigs, it will open things up around the perimeter and I can get more shots off. I feel like I can shoot, I just don’t why I don’t.”
With leading scorer Morgan Papp graduated, other players will need to step up.
“Hopefully she realizes that without Morgan, there’s a lot of points that need to be accounted for,” Beth said. “She’s always been ‘fun sized,’ but she’s a lot stronger this year and hopefully more confident. She has good form and in the past wasn’t as confident. We tell her the only bad shot is one you don’t take.”
‘She’s been around basketball since the womb so I think she really has a good basketball IQ.’
At 5-foot-4 Fitzpatrick is a perimeter player whose offense will come mainly from the jump shot. She won’t be penetrating too often, despite her extra strength.
But with inside players Jill Jackman and Michaela Luyber coming back, along with three-year starting guard Genesis Walker, the perimeter could be open for Fitzpatrick to launch. The Scotties are also helped by the return of Kasi Oguonu, who averaged a triple double two years ago but took last season off to focus on academics.
The cast appears set Bordentown to have some success this season, and its also looks like Fitzpatrick will get her shots.
“We definitely have a lot of potential for this season, I’m really excited about it,” Fitzpatrick said prior to the season. “We have a lot of girls out this year and we’re a big team for once, so that’s cool. And I definitely think I’ll be shooting more. In our first two scrimmages I already feel like I’ve been able to get more shots off. I’m not one who shoots that often, so I’m excited for this season for a number of reasons.”
Even if she doesn’t score much, Fitzpatrick is still an asset by the way she defends and sees the court. Once again, that comes from her upbringing.
“I definitely think it’s in the genes,” Beth said. “She’s a defender in soccer and it just carries over. As a player and a coach it was all about defense for me. And that’s the same mentality she has.”
As for Fitzpatrick’s court savvy, her mom added, “She’s been around basketball since the womb so I think she really has a good basketball IQ. She know what to do on offense, every positions responsibility but has always thought of herself as a defensive player. She’s a very good defender.”
Mom couldn’t resist a playful jab after that, adding, “It helps that she’s built close to the ground.”
Fitzpatrick won’t argue, saying, “I’m 100 percent the smallest one out there.”
What she lacks in size, she makes up with in intelligence. Not just in the classroom (with a 3.8 grade point average), but on the court.
“She’s a very smart defender,” Lloyd said. “She understands concepts of help side, seeing the ball, seeing her man, understanding how a zone works. She understands the different slides, so when we play our different zones she’s in a lot of different spots.”
What helps is that Fitzpatrick enjoys playing defense, which is something else a lot of young players don’t really worry about. And just like her reluctance to shoot, Devon is mystified by her eagerness to defend.
“I don’t really know what it is,” Fitzpatrick said. “I just always seem to be very defensive minded. I don’t why, but I definitely take pride guarding a player, shutting a girl down and getting a steal.”
Fitzpatrick is still searching for a college and has touched base with several soccer coaches about playing. She considers basketball her “fun” sport but still takes it serious.
Then again, when information comes flying at her at every family function, it’s hard not to.