Marian’s Fritz has basketball in his blood
Marian’s Tyler Fritz recently scored his 1,000th career point in a game against Nativity. Joining Tyler to celebrate the accomplishment were his mother, Kristin, and his father, Damian. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Don’t let anyone kid you, the DNA and the gene pool are there.
Marian’s Tyler Fritz has great basketball lineage on both sides of his family tree
His father is Damian Fritz, and grandfather is Bob Fulton. Say those two names and anyone familiar with local basketball will light up like the Aurora Borealis.
Damian was a hoop star back in the day at Tamaqua High School. Fulton was someone who without question changed the face of how basketball was played when he first arrived as the Marian coach in the early 1970s. He enjoyed decades of success as head coach at both Marian and Tamaqua, including leading the Colts to the 1971 PCIAA State Championship.
“I owe so, so much to both my grandfather and my dad,” said Tyler Fritz after he recently became just the 15th player in the storied history of boys’ basketball at Marian to score 1,000 points. “With all the great basketball players that have gone to school here, it’s quite an honor to be part of the list of players who have scored 1,000-career points. This is very special.”
Before he entered junior high, Fritz wasn’t your prototypical “gym rat” type of basketball player. In fact, it took until late in his seventh-grade year before the bell went off and he became dedicated to the game.
Tyler never felt pressure to excel in the sport, despite some outstanding athletic ability in his family, that includes his mom Kristen — a former Division 1 tennis player — in addition to his father and grandfather.
“Tyler is a very special player,” said Marian coach John Patton. “I just want to make sure that we are all enjoying this together. Tyler is our go-to guy, no question about that. “We are such a young team and we don’t have a lot of height, so have had to use him all over this season.”
Sometimes the 6-3 junior plays inside for the Colts. Sometimes he is at the point, sometimes on the wing.
But the position doesn’t matter to Fritz.
“I just want us to win,” he said when asked if he had a preference as to what position he plays.
“He is so fun to be around,” said Patton. “Everyone is trying to stop him. He finds ways to get it done. Tyler has had more defenses thrown at him ... we are always having to figure ways to get him free.”
It’s no secret what opposing defenses try to do against Marian. Fritz is hounded, pushed, shoved and cajoled.
Fritz has climbed the wall to stardom since his freshman season, when the Colts won the District 11 Class 2A championship.
“The seniors really accepted me, especially Ryan (Karchner) and Brandon (Mohammad), who were the team leaders,” said Fritz. “I really owed them a lot and now I’m trying to be like they were and lead by example. What they did to help me and accept me really meant a lot to me.”
But the players on the team weren’t the only ones Fritz wanted to thank.
“I owe a lot to coach Patton,” he said. “He gave me the opportunity to start as a freshman on a really good team, and that was very special.”
While athletics can be time consuming, Fritz has learned to manage his studies and the game. He’s a top-notch student who likes math.
With his younger sisters Ava and Addison rooting him on from the stands, and his brother Logan a freshman at Marian who is seeing varsity action,” Fritz has a great support system at home.
“They are my biggest fans,” Fritz said about his siblings. “I have such a great and supportive family.”
Through it all, Fritz said one of the most important things he has learned is that if you work hard enough, success can be attained.
“If you believe in yourself, you can do anything,” he said.
It also doesn’t hurt to be blessed with great DNA, and to have an outstanding gene pool.