Marist retires jersey of former star Rachele Fitz

Rachele Fitz couldn’t stop smiling as she looked up into the

rafters and saw her No. 12 jersey hanging high above Marist’s

court.

The Red Foxes’ all-time leading scorer and rebounder became the

first women’s basketball player to have her jersey retired by the

school Friday night.

With her family in attendance, Fitz’s jersey was unveiled near

those of men’s basketball greats Rik Smits, Drafton Davis and Steve

Smith.

”It really is incredible,” Fitz said. ”I never could have

thought when I came here five years ago that I’d end up with the

career I had.”

Serenaded by the boisterous crowd of 2,800, Fitz was in awe.

”The whole day was surreal,” said Fitz, who is playing

professionally in Luxembourg. ”I couldn’t stop smiling because I

knew if I did I would cry.”

Fitz – a three-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference player of

the year – finished her career with 2,447 points and 1,006 rebounds

and helped guide the Red Foxes to a 116-21 mark during her time at

the school, nestled nearly 90 miles outside New York City in the

Hudson Valley.

She was instrumental in leading the Red Foxes to the NCAA

tournament the past four seasons and as a freshman helped the team

advance to the regional semifinals for the first time in school

history.

”I was just one small part of the success we had and I was

blessed with really great teammates,” Fitz said.

The 6-foot-3 star sat on the bench during the game and received

a bevy of awards during the game. She was honored by Dutchess

County with a proclamation naming Feb. 18 in her honor. She was

also given a framed jersey as well as framed photos from her

playing career.

The Marist cheerleaders, mascot and many members of the student

section wore special Fitz shirts.

Even with Fitz having graduated, the Red Foxes are back in the

Top 25 and riding a 20-game winning streak – the second longest in

the nation.

Her replacement on the court, Brandy Gang, wouldn’t let the

24th-ranked Red Foxes lose on a night they honored their greatest

player. She matched her career-high with 19 points to help Marist

beat Manhattan 60-42.