The paint is where players get their hands dirty. And Medford native Destiny Fitzgerald needs to wash her hands thoroughly after dominating the area each game.
The Bridgewater State University Center stood out in her junior year and made some noise on one January evening.
In a Conference matchup against the reigning MASCAC champs Westfield State, the Bears needed a player to step up. And that’s just what Fitzgerald did.
On the Tinsley Center floor in Bridgewater, the Center dropped 43 points.
The Bears suffered a 111-108 loss, but her 43 points contributed to the most points scored by a Bridgewater women’s basketball team in school history.
It also stood for the most points scored by a player in a single game in program history. She shot 20-for-30 from the field, and the 20 field goals made stood for the most in a single game in program history as well.
Fitzgerald’s previous high for points scored came in high school when she dropped 41.
“I remember thinking, ‘Des is having a great game, they can’t stop her.’ But I was so into the game I lost track of her points. Someone told me at one point that she had I think 34 points and I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great for her if she broke her personal record?'” Fitzgerald’s mother Marissa Fitzgerald said. “I was so proud and happy for her when I found out after the game that she broke two school records.”
Fitzgerald began her path to the Bridgewater State record books in Kindergarten, where she played on an instructional team.
After that, she never looked back.
“It was so much fun watching her play as a kid,” Marissa Fitzgerald said. “Watching her play has always been one of my favorite things to do.”
From there, she made the sport a priority in her life and began playing more and practicing in her spare time. This led to her lacing her shoes for the Medford High Mustangs Varsity squad.
“Playing at Medford High was great,” Fitzgerald said. “I loved playing with all my friends and teammates I had grown up with and played with throughout the years.”
During that time, she dropped her previous career high of 41 points, and averaged 15 points per game and 15 rebounds per game in her senior season, catching the eyes of colleges.
She was recruited to a handful of schools and visited most of them, but after an overnight at Bridgewater, she made her decision.
“I felt at home and knew that was where I wanted to be,” Fitzgerald said.
“I knew once I picked her up from her overnight with the team that that was where she was going to go and play for college,” Marissa Fitzgerald said. “I’m pretty sure her first words to me when she got in the car were, ‘I feel at home here.’ And I never felt it was my decision.”
Her first career game came on Nov. 17, 2017 against Endicott, where she dumped in 13 points and set the tone for the rest of her career in a Bears uniform.
Now she has 715 total points, with the bulk coming this past year as she put together 363.
This past season stood for her best year at Bridgewater as she finished second in the MASCAC Conference in blocks per game (1.7), third in field-goal percentage (50.2%), third in rebounds per game (8.6), third in total blocks (46), fourth in total rebounds (232) and eighth in points per game with 13.4.
Her numbers helped the Bears reach the MASCAC Semifinals where they fell to No.1 seed Framingham State.
“She so far has been having a good college career for herself and I am so proud of her,” Marissa Fitzgerald said. “It’s crazy sometimes thinking about it, watching her play in college and remembering back to her in middle or even high school, and all the work she put in and the conversations we had about her goal of playing in college someday. And now she is.”
Now Fitzgerald will look to wrap up her collegiate career in her final season next winter, with some more accolades in mind.
“I know my teammates and I are going to work very hard to try and win the MASCAC,” Fitzgerald said. “And I’d personally love to hit my 1,000 points.”