PARKERSBURG — It’s been quite the journey for Riley Fitzwater, but the former Gilmer County Titan and Concord University Mountain Lion have accomplished her dream of playing professional basketball.
The 6-foot-4 pivot has agreed to a contract with BC Triple Threat, which competes at the highest level in the Nertherlands as part of the Women’s Basketball League.
“My mom is not happy. Ella she is ella, but she’s not pleased because I’m going to be gone for so long, ” admitted Fitzwater, who is Concord’s all-time leader in points (2,077), rebounds (1,557), blocked shots (533) and also the NCAA Division II owner for the best ever field goal shooting at 68.8% (899 of 1,306).
“I have to be there the first of September and it ends sometime in April.”
Fitzwater, who has her undergraduate and masters degree in business administration, said her college head coach Kenny Osborne helped her get an agent.
“I went through Vicky Bullett,” said Fitzwater, who took advantage of a second senior season due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused a worldwide pandemic. “She knows someone in Italy. Her de ella and my agent (Valentina Fabbri of Interperformances Agency) played together and I trusted her in the process.
“I had met her through playing against (West Virginia) Wesleyan in the conference and coach Osborne gave me her number and I reached out. I just felt comfortable talking to her. She was a huge help.”
Currently, Fitzwater is working for the West Virginia State Parks, a job she also had last summer.
Turning back the clock to high school, Fitzwater said she wasn’t even sure she would get a chance to play in college. That all changed after they won the Class A state championship, 42-41 during her junior season, and ended Huntington St. Joe’s dominating run.
“I didn’t play AAU before we went to the state tournament,” she said. “Until I started getting some calls and letters from colleges after that, I had no idea I could play college basketball.
“When coach Osborne called me I was really excited. He told me you’re not going to come and sit on the bench. I didn’t really believe him. Coaches are going to say whatever, but he wasn’t lying.”
Fitzwater made the all-Mountain East Conference first team twice and also was honored two times as a second team All-American.
“We get a five bedroom house with me and two other teammates and we get a car to share and three meals a week at a local restaurant,” added Fitzwater, who said the only thing she basically has to pay for are groceries.
“Medical, dental all that is covered. It’s (her salary) a decent amount, but it’s not a ton. It’s awesome. I’m so excited to be able to say I have to go to work and it’s really not working if you are doing something you enjoy doing.”
Far from a world traveler, Fitzwater said other than a cruise to the Bahamas along with an upcoming cruise to Mexico she’s taking with her mother, she doesn’t think she’s been west of Kentucky.
“I’m nervous, but I’m so excited,” Fitzwater added. “I do wish it was already September sometimes and other times I’m like I’m really enjoying my time with my friends and my family. They can come see me, but it’s not the same where you can drive five minutes down the road and see your grandma. I want to go to the theme park in Amsterdam and see the Anne Frank Museum.
“It’s bittersweet is what it is. I want to thank my head coach in high school Amy Chapman and (assistant) Wendell Tomblin and of course my Concord head coach Kenny Osborne and (assistant) Tesla Southcott, my family, my friends and my agent Valentina and Vicky Bullett. Everyone that had a hand in it I just appreciate all the help that they gave me.”
Contact Jay Bennett at email@example.com