Local coaching legend Marilyn Fitzgerald named one of this year's Commonwealth Heroines

Eagle-Tribune file photo. Former Andover swim coach Marilyn Fitzgerald is pictured here in 1996 with former Andover High athletes Kalley Thomas, Meghan Donahue, Pamela Muller, Caitlin Fitzpatrick, Dana Sawyer, Jenna Blongiewicz, Kim Provencal, Rebecca Parks, Brenna O'Connor, Heidi Brooks and Jacqui Sawyer.

Longtime Andover High School swim coach Marilyn Fitzgerald was selected as one of this year’s Commonwealth Heroines.

Every year, the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women announces their selection of Commonwealth Heroines based on nominations that often come from the state legislature. This year’s winners were announced on June 24.

“I went on the site that listed all of the women that received this award and its very humbling to be put in a category with them,” said Fitzgerald. “I have always thought that I knew why I was doing all of it but, the bottom line is for me, it’s always been about the kids.”

According to a report from the commission that announced this year’s winners, those selected to be Commonwealth Heroines “perform unheralded acts daily that make our homes, neighborhoods, cities and towns better places to live.”

Fitzgerald was nominated this year by state Rep. Frank Moran.

“First of all, the fact that Frank Moran nominated me was an honor in itself,” said Fitzgerald. “I have known Frank for many years now through my being on the School Committee at Greater Lawrence Tech, I am the rep from Andover on the committee, and Frank is not only a graduate of the Tech, but he is such an advocate for the kids.”

Fitzgerald, who retired in December 2018, was the swim coach at Andover High for 27 years. Shortly after her retirement, she was named the National Girls Swimming Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association, or NHSCA.

Andover High’s swim team won 18 state titles under Fitzgerald’s watch.

Fitzgerald was also a volunteer at the Merrimack Valley YMCA for decades.

As for her key to coaching success, Fitzgerald said, “I knew that every single one of the girls that I coached could do more than she thought she could do and when that day came when they were able to succeed beyond what they believed it was magic.”


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