CLEARWATER – Two years ago, Clearwater Central Catholic finished 27-5 on the way to capturing the Class 3A state title. A then-freshman Cameron Fitzpatrick learned a ton from the senior starters playing alongside her.

Fitzpatrick who stands out at 5’9 1’2″ has taken everything in stride since that state championship season. She had this to say about her game from that point till right now.

“As a freshman, I had senior stars all around me. I needed to elevate my game in order to carry my weight,” Fitzpatrick told Prep Sports Scouting. “I played middle since we had Shea Hamilton and Rachel O’Dell on the outside, so I felt I learned a lot from those leaders. It encouraged me to lead through hard work and example. I am still working on becoming more vocal.”

Katie Moore, a key part of the 2014 state team is now a middle blocker at Wake Forest. Fitzpatrick says Moore took her under her wing and that helped elevate her game. Simply doing her part was Fitzpatrick’s task on the loaded team.

Last season, the Marauders went 11-16, the first losing season under seventh-year head coach Stephen Shepherd. Fitzpatrick says the chemistry wasn’t all there for a new-look team a year ago.

“In my opinion, we had to gel as a team. We were young, as well as added a few transfer players and had to learn and grow on the fly,” she said. “Sometimes you’re the hammer, sometimes you’re the nail. Injuries didn’t help either, but we grew closer and more trust has been built as a result.”

However, this season CCC has already matched its win total from a year ago with 11. They were undefeated prior to a 3-1 loss to undefeated Berkeley Prep on Tuesday. Fitzpatrick has a ton of confidence in her emerging group, who now plays in 5A.

“I believe our identity is maturing. We believe in ourselves and our coach,” she said. “We understand our positions and we try to do our own jobs on the court. I would say that our identity reflects our team slogan. Coach Shepherd always preaches to remain humble and stay hungry.”

Fitzpatrick called this season her biggest year of her high school career. So what has she done to try to improve her game and role as a leader?

“I listen more. I listen to coach Shepherd’s instructions and I listen to my teammates more,” she said. “I’m blessed to have amazing players around me, so I learn from them too.

“I put in a lot of work and always try to maintain a good attitude and always try and improve myself. I feel as if I’m a completely different person than my freshman year because of how much I’ve grown mentally and physically.”

In terms of the biggest lesson Fitzpatrick has learned from coach Shepherd that is to be passionate about her play. She says Shepherd would constantly tell her to carry that passion onto the court as an underclassman. Now, it’s clear she plays with that edge.

Coach Shepherd owns a 148-51 record since taking over the program in 2010. He’s led CCC to five 20 plus win seasons, five district championships, three region championships and of course the state title two years ago. Fitzpatrick says it is no accident that the team won the title under his watch.

“I love Shep. He gets heated sometimes but I would say he is a loud coach,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’ve seen those types and he doesn’t fall into that category. I see him challenge our players mentally and I feel that carries over to more than just volleyball.

“I know this game won’t last forever, but Shep cares more than just playing the game, he cares about your future. I would also say he has my number. If he needs to get on me, he does. He is loud with me and others when he needs to be, but that is passion for competition and why he is a state title holder.”

Starting her volleyball career six years ago at the club level, Fitzpatrick played boys flag football and basketball before that, something she said she truly loved.

Living in Texas for two years is where Fitzpatrick started to take the game of volleyball seriously.

“I lived in Houston and learned that girls have opportunities through the game,” she said. “The clubs I played for in Houston had more than 800 girls each season. It’s a way of life there and the competition was real. That too elevated my game in order to stay on the top teams for club. With so many girls, you have to bring your best every day or you sat the bench.”

Fitzpatrick is a true team player as she says her key role on this team is to be supportive of her teammates. Her favorite part of volleyball is the adrenaline you feel in the middle of the game, a win and her least favorite part is losing. However, at the end of the day, she wants to help her teammates and make everyone around her better.

“There are a lot of great athletes playing in Tampa Bay, but I want people to remember me as someone who cared about those around them,” she said. “I’ve seen teams implode when the chemistry is off, so I try to do what I can to keep our team focused and lead through my play.”

Playing at a school like CCC that has a ton of great athletes in many sports is something Fitzpatrick thoroughly enjoys.

“To play at a school that has 30 plus state titles in the gym, we have to do our part,” she said. “Alumni passed the torch to us and we have a responsibility to do as best we can to uphold the tradition on the court and bring home wins and in the classroom and go on to college. That’s why you come to CCC.”

Fitzpatrick has yet to receive her first offer, but she says she’s received interest from various schools around the country. She wants to go to school that has to have her and wants her there.

“I feel I have a lot to offer, but I want to be patient and focus on this season and helping our team win the next state title,” Fitzpatrick said. “If I do my part to make that happen, schools will take a closer look. I can explore more schools after this season before club starts.”

Her biggest role model on the court is the entire 2014 state title team. Off the court, it’s her family.

“I wouldn’t call it pressure to excel, but in our family you are born into sports,” she said. “They are the support staff I need to keep working on and off the court.”

It didn’t take long for Fitzpatrick to shine on the big stage for the Marauders. After recording 122 kills and nine assists as a sophomore, she already has 137 kills and 18 assists through 12 games this season. She’s determined, energetic and quick to find her way as an attacker. Fitzgerald has a very bright future on a state contending CCC team.

She knows she’s blessed with ability, but says that can only take you so far.

“It’s the other stuff that I need to live up to and I’m trying,” Fitzpatrick said.

***

Quick Hitters

Playlist before games – “My team has a group chat and we all just throw out songs to keep adding to our playlist.”
Favorite movies – Coach Carter and The Best of Me
Favorite TV shows – American Horror Stories
A fun fact about you that you think nobody knows about you – “I’m an ocean person. I grew up on the water and I love being on boats and jet skis. I love tubing. I’d pick the ocean over anything, I’m really outgoing and I will talk to anyone. I have a crazy personality, you could honestly ask anyone that knows me and they would call me crazy right away.”
Nickname(s) from teammates or friends – “Fitz p.”, “cam”, “goose”

Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at jake.perper@hotmail.com.

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