Behind the Mask: Catching up with Katie Fitzgerald and the Chicago Bandits

Posted Aug 9, 2017 for The Ice Garden

Earlier this summer, The Ice Garden spoke to New York Riveters goalie Katie Fitzgerald about her internship with the Chicago Bandits, reigning champions of the National Pro Fastpitch softball league. The experience has been an opportunity to pursue other interests in sports, while also gaining a new perspective on the NWHL.

Landing the job

After her rookie season, Fitzgerald began looking for summer positions.

“I was talking with my mom and we were just kinda brainstorming different options because I wanted to…kickstart a career off the ice, but still within athletics,” said Fitzgerald.

While at St. Cloud State University, Fitzgerald was able to have a few internships with the athletics department — when she wasn’t playing herself, that is. In addition to working with men’s and women’s hockey at St Cloud, Fitzgerald also assisted with the baseball team.

On paper, the job with the Bandits looked like a solid blend of familiar roles and new experiences, so the Des Plaines-native reached out to Jason Lowenthal, the director of media operations for the Bandits.

“I told him [about] my previous experience, how much I would love to continue working in sports and how special it would be to be on the other side of that – of a women’s professional organization,” said Fitzgerald. “That I had a unique perspective going in, kinda being in their shoes a little bit, so that was fun.”

A new perspective on sports

Fitzgerald is no stranger to media scrums as a player and this summer, she got to be on the other side of the microphone. Interviews, game recaps and live tweeting are some of her regular tasks for the Bandits organization, “It was cool … to look at similar things the NWHL did, and brainstorm from there.”

Since being hired, Fitzgerald has been able to follow the team through the 2017 college draft, the NCAA College World Series, and get a feel for the game operations and social media side of things. Being from the Chicago area, Fitzgerald remembers watching the Bandits as a child. Now, she was shadowing coaches and staff during the college draft.

“I would watch Jennie Finch in the circle for the Chicago Bandits and (I) still have a ball in my room signed by all the Chicago Bandits, I just realized, which is pretty crazy … so, seeing that platform and how much it’s grown, truly…following specific players and their process of their draft and signing and things like that, that was very cool.”

Outlook for the Bandits

After a rough start, particularly on the road, the four-time champions find themselves in third place with a 23-20 record. “They’re defending their title this year and there’s still a lot of season ahead, which is exciting and you never know what’s gonna happen,” said Fitzgerald.

All in all, it seems like Fitzgerald is enjoying her time with the Bandits — she’s even had a few visitors help cross-promote the NWHL. The Ice Garden’s own Hannah Bevis dropped in over the summer; not to be outdone, the Fitzgerald family hosted their own Riveters Night at Rosemont Stadium, the Bandits home field.

For more information on the American professional softball league, head to profastpitch.com. To learn more about the Bandits and read some news clips from Fitzgerald herself, check out ChicagoBandits.com.

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