COLUMBUS, Ohio - Columbus Crew General Manager Mark McCullers announced today the organization's plans to honor and remember former Crew Head Coach, the late Tom Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald, the Crew Head Coach from 1996-2001, died on December 4, 2004 from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. His wife, Debi, and sons, Shane and Jesse, will be in attendance at Saturday's season opener and will be recognized prior to the start of the game.
"It is a bittersweet moment because Tom isn't here," said Debi. "But our time in Columbus was some of the happiest times we had and brings back great memories. I appreciate immensely what the Hunts, The Crew, Greg Andrulis, and everyone has done to keep Tom's name alive. I am honored to be here but it is still a sad occasion."
The Crew will honor Fitzgerald during the 2005 season by wearing a "Fitz" patch on the front of their jerseys, just above the Crew logo.
"Fitz was a great friend, a great coach and a great guy," said Crew Head Coach and former Fitzgerald assistant Greg Andrulis. "His passion for his family, his friends and his profession will live on forever."
Fitz will be permanently memorialized at Crew Stadium with the "Tom Fitzgerald Monument." The glacial boulder that was unearthed during the construction of Crew Stadium will feature a commemorative plaque that will also include a likeness of his face. It will be placed on the west side of Crew Stadium near Autograph Alley, just south of the locker rooms.
The Crew will also present Tom's family with a $4,000 donation that will help fund the Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship. The fund will support the men's soccer program at the University of Tampa, where Tom was Head Coach. Donations to the Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship Fund can be mailed to: Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship Fund, University of Tampa, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Box I, Tampa, FL 33606.
Saturday's game (April 2) opens The Crew's 10th Season, when it takes on the Los Angeles Galaxy at 7:30 p.m. at Columbus Crew Stadium. Tickets can be acquired at any participating Ticketmaster outlet or the Crew Stadium Box Office, by calling 614-431-3600, or by logging on to TheCrew.com.
In addition to the Tom Fitzgerald presentation and recognition of his family, opening day festivities will include the recognition of former midfielder Brian Maisonneuve and his family at halftime. The first 10,000 fans through the gates will also receive the first of 16 commemorative "First Decade Cards." The Crew will top off the day with a post-game fireworks display immediately following the game.