Feb. 22, 2017
RELEASE DATE: For Immediate Release
ATTENTION: SPORTS EDITORS/DIRECTORS
From Alaska to Iowa Lakes to Division 1 Baseball
It has been a long journey for Iowa Lakes Community College right-handed pitcher Joe Fitka. The 6'5 230-pound product of Dimond High School out of Anchorage, Alaska, has come a long way to chase a dream of getting a college education and playing baseball at the collegiate level.
"Growing up in Alaska as a kid I played about 3 months out of the year," said Fitka. "There isn't a big amount of kids trying to pursue baseball so what we did is a group of us would take advantage of a dome where we would independently go to hit and throw by ourselves without too much specific instruction."
Fitka found out about Iowa Lakes through head coach Joey Pavlovich who was a graduate assistant at the time of a showcase in Arizona called the Arizona Senior Fall Classic.
"I saw a behemoth of a human being who had the best curveball I saw at the showcase. I knew he was going to be a project for us, but with the sort of size, project-ability, and hearing about his character from his coaches, I thought it was a no brainer to push him onto our head coach at the time," said Pavlovich. "I kept looking around at the showcase to see if anyone else saw what I was seeing and there was nobody out to watch their team so I was pretty giddy about where we could go from there and our chance to get him."
Iowa Lakes was the first and only recruiting call he got. Shortly after, there was a visit to the college and then a commitment came.
His freshman year was a struggle to say the least. There was a lot of work to be done.
"Fitka is one of the hardest working and most impressive young men who have come through this program. The difference has been he listens and although he struggled his freshman year he always kept that positive attitude and came back to college this year as a new man," said Pavlovich.
Joe impressed head coach Pavlovich this fall having improved his velocity topping at 89 mph at the end of the fall as well as being really consistent throwing strikes. This once, under recruited kid had blossomed into a legitimate prospect.
"Iowa Lakes has been a great place for me personally," said Fitka, "It isn't a huge area with population so there was the ability for me to get focused and put everything I had into baseball and college. I think this was a perfect place for me to start my college career and definitely prepared me for the next level."
Fitka eventually narrowed down his list of schools and went on a visit to Chicago State (a Division 1 school in the WAC). Fitka stated, "The first thing that struck me about Chicago State was the coaching staff. Coach Harden and Joslyn were very welcoming and explained where the program is going and what I can expect. The field also was tremendous and I think the facilities will give me a tremendous advantage to get myself to another level."
On top of his talent on the field, Fitka maintains a 3.3 GPA in the classroom and will graduate this spring with his associate degree in science.
The Iowa Lakes baseball team opens up on Saturday, Feb. 25 playing four games against Southeastern Illinois College at SIU-Carbondale's field. Their first game in this region will be a non-conference game in Bancroft against Rochester Community and Technical College on April 4. The Lakers' home opener is set for two days later in Estherville where they will play a double header against Sioux Falls JV.
Photo ID: A photo of Joe Fitka is attached.
MEDIA: For more information, please contact head coach Joey Pavlovich at (712) 362-7916 or the Sports Information Marketing office at (712) 362-7928.