After making wrestling history in the past for Lynbrook, Ally Fitzgerald will once again be a trailblazer in the sport, after accepting a scholarship to help launch the new women’s team at Sacred Heart University.
Fitzgerald, 17, who gained attention as the first girl to win in her weight class at a boys’ high school wrestling tournament in Nassau County as a freshman in 2018, said she was “humbled and blessed” to join the new program at Sacred Heart, which launched last September.
“With SHU being one of the first D-I teams in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association to add women’s wrestling, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be a pioneer on and off the mat,” she wrote on social media.
Sacred Heart, in Fairfield, Conn., followed Presbyterian College, in Clinton, S.C., to become the second NCAA Division I school to start a women’s wrestling program.
Being a pioneer is nothing new for Fitzgerald. After winning in the boys’ tournament at South Side High School in Rockville Centre in 2018, she was part of the first girls-only bracket in the 42-year history of the Eastern States Tournament at upstate Sullivan County Community College in January 2020, where she won the 113-pound weight class. She then became the first girl to qualify for the Nassau County boys’ sectional tournament in 2020 for Lynbrook, where she placed third in her county qualifier by winning four matches, two by pin, before losing her first two tournament bouts in the 120-pound weight class.
Fitzgerald’s road to success began when she was a victim of bullying in first grade, and her parents signed her up for jujitsu classes to build her confidence. She joined the Lynbrook Titans Wrestling program at age 9 after watching her younger brother, Liam, wrestle, and has mostly competed against boys during her high school wrestling career. She said she had no qualms about joining a male-dominated sport.
Hilary Becker, who runs the Titans program, said he was proud of Fitzgerald for her past success and for helping launch the women’s wrestling program at Sacred Heart.
“She is making history in the sport,” Becker said. “No one will ever be able to take that away from her.”
After three years wrestling at LHS, Fitzgerald transferred to Long Beach High School for her senior year. She has a 66-18 overall record, including a 3-1 mark in the Covid-shortened 2020-21 season. Fitzgerald made waves as an eighth-grader when she set a Lynbrook school record of 110 push-ups, breaking the previous mark of 108 set by All-Conference wrestler Anthony Salamone a few years earlier. In her final two seasons at Lynbrook South Middle School, Fitzgerald went 11-0, winning nine of her matches by pin. She has also wrestled as part of the Team USA Wrestling Cadet Women’s National Team, which could be a bridge to Olympic competition.
Fitzgerald trains at Vougar’s Honors Wrestling in Syosset, and last month, she won five freestyle bouts at 122 pounds at the Journeyman Tournament in Pennsylvania. Next she will compete at the National High School Coaches Association national championship in Virginia Beach from April 23 to 25. She said in the past that he has high hopes for the future, including aspirations to make the World Team and the United States Women’s Olympic team.
“It feels really amazing to know that I’m one of the pioneers of girls’ wrestling, especially on Long Island,” Fitzgerald said, “and that I’m paving the way for other girls in the future. I’m really proud to be a part of it.”