ROCKVILLE – A few months ago, Jeff Fritz was sitting at home, relaxing and enjoying the offseason, when he received a phone call from Bob Manfuso, a member of the board of the Potomac Chapter of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Fritz was unsure what the call would be about. The current Winston Churchill High School varsity lacrosse head coach had very few interactions with Manfuso. He picked up his cell phone and took the surprise call — letting him know that he was inducted as part of the 2019 class of the Hall of Fame.
“I was stunned,” Fritz said. “It took me some time to process it. I did not tell anyone until the following day. I had my parents come over, and I told my wife and kids. We later went out to dinner to celebrate.”
Heading into his 26th year coaching the sport, Fritz was officially inducted into the Potomac Chapter of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame on Saturday, Feb. 9, in a ceremony at the University Club in Washington, D.C
He became the second person from Montgomery County Public Schools to receive the honor since former head coach Ed Kostolansky at Seneca Valley High School. Fritz began his career coaching as an assistant with the Screaming Eagles under the tenures of Kostolansky and Daryl Shultz before becoming a head coach.
“Joining him in the Hall of Fame is very special to me.” Fritz said. “It’s like a lifetime achievement. Putting this together, I’d just take this time to reflect on all the friends I’ve had here to get the program where it is today.”
In his 26 years as the head coach of Churchill, Fritz has racked up quite the resume: seven regional titles and six divisional titles. Throughout his tenure, Fritz has coached future college talent; about 39 of his players committed to playing lacrosse in college during his career, including 23 Division I commits.
Most recently, college stars Louis Dubick and Derek Altobello made the jump, going to two of the biggest programs in the nation, committing to University of Maryland and Georgetown University, respectively.
“It’s awesome to see Coach Fritz get inducted,” said Altobello, who made 1st Team All-Division and 1st Team All-County and team captain and won Team Offensive Player of the Year in 2015 during his time with Churchill. “He’s been a staple for Churchill lacrosse for over 20 years and has helped tremendous growth in the sport in Montgomery County.”
Dubick, who made the varsity team his freshman year at Churchill, set several school records. More significantly, he became all-time leader in points (506), goals (254) and assists (252) in Maryland high school lacrosse. His success came through thanks to Fritz’s coaching style, Dubick said.
“He can come off as kind of quiet or somewhat reserved, but deep down he’s got a fire and competitiveness that I can relate to,” Dubick said. “He’s so well-tempered and can control his emotions, but when he needs to go to bat for his players, he will 100-percent fight for them.”
“Those guys are why we do what we do” Fritz said of his former successful players. “They really enjoy seeing the friendships and bonds. I hope to keep in contact with them for years and see what men they become.”
Moving forward to this season: Fritz hopes to bounce back after suffering back-to-back state championship losses and losing five key seniors who committed to playing in college.
“The success he’s had as a head coach in the county is unmatched,” Dubick said. “Multiple regional championships, multiple divisional championships, and multiple finals appearances. I have to attribute the kind of program he’s built, the kind of person he is, the kind of coach he is.”
“This season is going to be different,” Fritz said. “We come in with a lot of question marks. We graduated with a lot of seniors last year. We have a lot to live up to. Looking forward to the challenge. The kids are excited.”