Breaking records, boosting communities and building bridges: Karter Fitzpatrick’s journey of success and service

Karter Fitzpatrick throwing a pitch in a Wayne State baseball game

Karter Fitzpatrick made his first start on the mound for the Wayne State University baseball team March 9, 2020. It was WSU’s second game of the day as part of the team’s annual spring break trip to Florida. Fitzpatrick threw four scoreless innings and picked up a pair of strikeouts in the Warriors’ 8-2 win over Northern State University.

Two days later, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Fitzpatrick’s first season as a collegiate student-athlete was over.

Like others in the Class of 2024, he spent most of the next year attending classes within the confines of his apartment. For someone as driven as Fitzpatrick to compete and succeed, it was a struggle to stay positive.

“I’m fortunate to have a strong support system,” he said, “but it was tough.”

As the world reopened and found a new normal, Fitzpatrick spent the next three years putting together a body of work that was anything but. He has rewritten the Wayne State baseball record books and achieved outstanding academic success as a civil engineering major ― all while accumulating more than 130 hours of service to his community, for which he was one of nine student-athletes from across the country selected to the inaugural Lou Gehrig Community Impact Team.

Furthering the legacy of the eponymous Columbia University and New York Yankees legend, the Lou Gehrig Community Impact Team was created to recognize collegiate baseball players that demonstrate a substantial commitment to community service, make remarkable contributions to their team’s success, and embody Gehrig’s spirit and character.

“Being an NCAA student-athlete is a tremendous opportunity, but it also carries responsibility,” said Ryan Kelley, head coach of the Wayne State baseball team. “Karter realizes this and appreciates his platform to serve. It has been an absolute honor to witness Karter give back to the youth in our community, help those in need, impact his peers and value outreach.” 

Fitzpatrick’s involvement in the Detroit Lions Game On Cancer initiative, in partnership with the Henry Ford Cancer Institute, has been pivotal to aiding fundraising efforts exceeding $126,000 to support those fighting the disease.

“I’ve been lucky to be blessed with great health in my young life, but I know many others have not, including friends and family members who have coped with cancer and other issues,” he said. “I love helping people that need help.”

Beyond his contributions to cancer fundraising, Fitzpatrick has been active in such initiatives as shoe and clothing drives, lunch-making programs, cleanup efforts, and equipment donations through organizations including Detroit Police Athletic League, Warrior Strides, Hashtag Lunchbag Detroit, Carleton Clothes Drive and Team Impact. He has also dedicated considerable time to nurturing a love of baseball among Detroit’s next generation, volunteering at the Detroit Tigers Play Ball camp, the Courageous Inc. MLK Day camp and youth baseball practices.

Karter Fitzpatrick tossing a pitch to a young girl batting at a youth baseball clinic.
Among Karter Fitzpatrick's numerous contributions to his community was time spent with the next generation of baseball players at the Detroit Tigers Play Ball camp.

“Growing the sport that has done so much for me in my community has really impacted my outlook on the game,” he said.

Within that game, Fitzpatrick has demonstrated remarkable prowess. He amassed a 10-1 record with a 2.66 earned run average in 2023, earning All-America status as well as Pitcher of the Year accolades in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). He was an integral part of the team’s record-breaking season, clinching both regular season and conference tournament championships with 42 victories.

“Winning the GLIAC Championship last year at home was really fun,” recalled Fitzpatrick. “The big dogpile to celebrate at Harwell Field was incredible.”

In his senior season, he etched his name among some of the most accomplished pitchers in the 84-year history of the Wayne State baseball program. In February, with his 25th career win, which also happened within Harwell Field’s friendly confines, he became the program’s all-time leader in pitching victories.

As the season winds down and the Warriors make another run at a championship in the days to come, Fitzpatrick will likely add to his list of career accolades; however, he acknowledges that he didn’t earn them alone.

“It definitely feels good to have those individual awards because it means your hard work led somewhere, but especially as a pitcher, particularly looking at wins, which is a true team stat, I have to give credit to my teammates and coaches,” he said. “I don’t get those awards without them.”

His academic achievements are not to be overlooked either. He has maintained a 3.72 GPA as a civil engineering major, twice meriting the GLIAC Commissioner’s Award for excellence in academics and athletics. Fitzpatrick has also devoted time to his professional development as an intern with OHM Advisors, a community advancement firm that designs award-winning work across the architecture, engineering and planning spheres. His productivity with the bridge group impressed the firm enough to offer him a job after graduation ― if he doesn’t give professional baseball a shot.

“Karter’s on-field baseball achievements are remarkable, but his ability as a student-athlete to strive within a demanding civil engineering curriculum speaks to his impressive intangibles,” said Kelley. “His organization, time management, academic values, goal-setting and commitment are examples that others can learn from.”

As Fitzpatrick reflects on the busy schedule, late nights and sacrifices that come with being a student-athlete, he wouldn’t change the last four years.

“You’re serving a purpose and bettering yourself, so it’s all worth it in the end,” he said.

Fitzpatrick also feels that, while the awards are nice, they don’t fully define his Wayne State experience; rather, he focuses on how he affected the people around him.

“Above anything,” he said, “I hope I’m remembered as a good teammate and someone who was willing to make sacrifices to win and be successful.”

← Back to listing