NEVADA UNION ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017: Kele Fitzhugh
Kele Fitzhugh made plenty of big shots during his playing days at Nevada Union High School.
His basketball ability was nothing short of impressive and the three-year varsity player was instrumental in helping the Miners win their first Sac-Joaquin Section championships in 1981. But for Fitzhugh, the big shots were great — the friendships forged during those days are priceless.
“What you always remember is the camaraderie with all your teammates,” Fitzhugh said. “The growing up together, the experiences of growing up together, the 3½ to 4 hour practices, the long trips shoved in the back of a station wagon, the tricks you play on each other in the locker room. All those things were just fond memories. Really equal to the ability and success that we had was the friendships we had with all those guys.”
While at Nevada Union, the 1981 graduate was a star guard during the glory days of Miners basketball. He helped the Miners to league titles in 1979 and 1981 in addition to the section championship in 1981. In his junior season, Fitzhugh was the team’s co-MVP and earned All-League and All-Section First Team honors. In his senior season, he was the team’s MVP, the league co-MVP, the Sac-Joaquin Section MVP and was the first player in NU history to top 1,000 points scored in a career.
Fitzhugh will be inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame along with several members of those elite Miners basketball teams, including coach Kermit Young and teammates Chris Cota and David Heppe.
“All those guys contributed to my ability to be there so to go in with them is exciting,” said Fitzhugh, who will also be inducted with along with his best friend Armin Anderson.
After his time at Nevada Union, Fitzhugh went to Division I Weber State on a scholarship. His time at Weber State was short lived due to medical issues. He would transfer to Carroll College on an athletic scholarship, but that school wasn’t the right fit. Fitzhugh finally landed at Chico State where he had a solid playing career, got his degree and started coaching as a student assistant in 1986.
The next year he went to Butte College where he was head assistant, and the following year went back to Chico State as the Wildcats’ head assistant. He coached at Chico State for nine years, contributing to four straight conference titles, until he was offered the head coaching job at Shasta College. He’s been running the Shasta basketball program for the past 20 years. In his time at Shasta he has won six conference championships and six Coach of the Year Awards. Fitzhugh said he still abides by some of the coaching tenants he learned while playing under Kermit Young at Nevada Union.
“What I took away from Nevada Union the most was the understanding that it’s not always the talent, but it’s the heart of the players playing. And, the camaraderie because once you start playing for each other it makes a huge difference.
“I still use that today. I tell my players it’s not about how athletic you are, it’s how hard you play and who you play for. We’re not playing for the people up in the stands. We play for the people who are on the court with us. When team chemistry is great and people play the game right, it’s such a beautiful game.”
Fitzhugh currently lives in Redding with his wife of 28 years Karin. They have two children who have both graduated from college.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.
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