Finleigh Fitton has joined the elite in Collier County’s largest athletic conference. On May 23rd, at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Naples, in what has been described by some as the biggest night in sports, Finleigh was named to the All-Collier County Athletic Conference First Team for girl’s lacrosse. The Collier County Athletic Conference (CCAC) is comprised of all seven of the county’s public schools, the largest schools in the county. It is the conference which has sent many of its athletes to Division I universities on athletic scholarships.
Finleigh moved to Marco Island with her family from Great Falls, Virginia last summer, where she had played varsity tennis and lacrosse at Flint Hill High School. She successfully transferred to Marco Island Academy (MIA), where she was a member of the varsity girls’ basketball team to which, according to acting AD Jerry Miller, she brought athleticism, competitiveness, timely three-point shooting, and “a great basketball IQ.”
Her first love is lacrosse, however, a (spring) sport which MIA did not offer among its 17 varsity sports teams. Taking advantage of a Collier County School District policy for just such a contingency, Finleigh, along with MIA classmates Teagan Havemeier and Anna Chamberlin, tried out for the Lely High School girls’ lacrosse team. All three of them made the team – no small accomplishment at a high school with a student population of 1,555, as compared to MIA’s 230.
Lely did not have winning record this spring, but Finleigh’s performance captured the attention of the league’s coaches, who picked her for the all-conference first team slot. Lely Coach, Brad Bissel, could not be reached for comment. “Finleigh was one of our leading scorers,” said teammate, Teagan Havemeier, an outstanding athlete herself, “She was always running at games despite missing practices due to shin splints at the end of the season.”
Finleigh’s biggest fan perhaps, is her vivacious grandmother, Olga Karmeliwicz, who has been to most of her games. “Finleigh’s trademark move,” recalls Olga, “was getting possession of the ball near her own goal and then streaking the length of the field, to score in the opponent’s goal.” “Until this year, I had always played attack,” said Finleigh, “Playing as midfielder allowed me to be pretty much all over the place. I really liked that.” At a diminutive 5’2”, Finleigh has made do with her speed and finesse against the mostly larger opponents in the in the CCAC. It’s too bad we don’t get to see her play here.