I appreciate the unique approach Michael Fitzgibbons brings to his practice.
I began therapy when faced with tremendous challenges in the most difficult time of my life. His professionalism, intelligence and sense of humor were comforting to me. He provided me with the tools necessary to cope, rebuild and believe in myself. I am so grateful for his nonjudgmental manner and dedication to his work. He truly cares!!!!
I welcome the opportunity to write this testimonial for Michael Fitzgibbons, who over the last 40 years has served as classroom teacher, Campus Minister, Retreat Director and licensed counselor. In these roles, “Fitz” has been responsible for working with school administration, faculty and staff for the purpose of developing programs that support spiritual growth, and the integration of core values into the life of the student body. His success is the result of his ability to connect with the students with whom he works, an ability that was born from his skill as counselor, his understanding of the adolescent mind and his dedication to the individual with whom he was working. I witnessed Fitz as he navigated the responsibilities of his job, sat in on meetings where he articulated the vision he had for working effectively with students, worked with staff, faculty and the executive team who all benefited from his “yes, I can” attitude and his effectiveness in successfully working with adolescents. These opportunities have given me insights into his varied talents, his dedication to the well being of the students with whom he works, his positive energy, his hard work ethic and the impact he has.
Fitz understands that he was called by God to the work that he does. St. Ignatius described this as a call to “Go forth and set the world on fire.” It is this understanding that has made all the difference. Carmel Catholic High School has been greatly impacted by his response to the call. The implementation of the Kairos Retreat into our program, the ability to share his talents with our feeder schools through the 8th grade retreat program that he organized, the effectiveness of his role as a speaker with parent groups on topics related to understanding the adolescent, his work on orchestrating faculty retreat and prayer experiences are just some of the ways in which our world was “set on fire” by his response. I salute him and remain grateful for all the ways in which he has made a difference.
- Lynne Strutzel
Carmel Catholic High School
Principal 2008 – 2013
Faculty 1979 - 2013
Having worked with Mike Fitzgibbons and observing him while running retreats, I can honestly say that no person belongs in front of young people as much as Mike. His enthusiasm and sincerity is the most positive thing that any person, not just today’s youth, could experience. After having just one conversation with Mike you’ll feel as if you’ve been friends for years, and more than likely, after one conversation, you will be.
- Brendan Leetch
Mathematics Department Chair
Carmel Catholic High School
It is our remembering self who makes decisions. We remember one who
betrayed us, and we decide to be more careful. We remember our own poor
choices, and we decide to be more responsible. We remember our
experiences of love, of mercy, of redemption. And we decide to
persevere, or to try again. It is our remembering self who makes those
decisions. And our remembering self is kept in story.
I have known Fitz for somewhere going on 30 years, and he has always
been a man of story. That is neither a fanciful term nor one that is
lightly bestowed. Fitz is one who listens first to the stories, and the
story, of others. I have watched him, and in many moments, stood next to
him, as he listened… to students, to parents, to colleagues. He has
mastered the art of multi-layered listening. He listens on the surface
while at the same time listening to the feelings which burn underneath
the surface. But listening like that is not a passive thing. Nothing
Fitz does is ever passive. He digs. He uncovers. He upends. He connects.
He sometimes cauterizes. And all of that happens in the language of
story. Your story, his story, God’s story, our story.
The author Robert McKee writes: “Stories are the creative conversion of
life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience.
They are the currency of human contact.”
Fitz is a trader in that currency.
- Fr. Glenn Snow, O. Carm.
Click below to listen to an audio recording of this testimonial.
During the period 2011-2016, we asked Mike Fitzgibbons on at least one dozen occasions to engage with our teams and coaches in leadership development. On each occasion, our staffs were able to discover the inner-workings of their team’s dynamics, leadership strengths and weaknesses and strategies for moving their programs forward. Student-athletes left each session energized with a clearer understanding of what constitutes genuine leadership and motivated to accomplish stated team goals.
I believe Mike Fitzgibbons’ leadership training program is on the cutting edge of programming designed to support and improve modern education-based high school athletics.
The combination of sophisticated games and exercises Mike has designed to uncover and reveal team leadership would, by themselves, make for a great evening of team-building. The key to this program, in my view, lies in the “break-down” sessions that follow each interactive team activity. Mr. Fitzgibbons is a master of working to elicit students’ emotions and thinking as they “assess” the results of each team-building activity. Students are remarkably candid with “Fitz” and the result is an honest dialogue that centers on how to be a better teammate, athlete and human being.
Coaches are invited to be present and watch each activity and break-down session. Those coachers present often noted that they learned more about team culture and leadership dynamics in eight hours than they had at any point in their season. Remarkably, the presence of coaches just doesn’t reduce the candor with which students reply and respond to Fitz during the evening.
If leadership and team culture is a priority for your athletic program, let me strongly encourage you to reach out to Mike Fitzgibbons.
- Randy Oberembt
Former Athletic Director
New Trier High School
One of the most important activities of our off-season football program at Glenbrook South HS is the lock-in we do with Coach Mike Fitzgibbons. As we attempt to mold our team into a high-functioning unit built on trust, accountability, and honest leadership, we have found that this night is a critical part of this process. “Fitz” does a terrific job of putting the team through a series of fun activities that are designed to do much more than entertain the players. While they do enjoy what they are doing, the night’s activities push players out of their comfort zone and help reveal issues related to team-unity, communication, trust, and leadership while opening up dialog about these issues. As a former head football coach and educator, Fitz understands the need to process each activity as the night goes along. He does a great job of drawing out discuss that helps to illuminate the strengths and weaknesses existing within the fabric of the team.
- David Schoenwetter
Head Football Coach
Glenbrook South High School
Coach Fitzgibbons' lock-in was a huge benefit to our program and our players and coaches refer back to it throughout the year when things get tough. In exit interviews, our players consistently refer to the lock-in as one of the best aspects of our program.
- Travis Myers
Glenbrook South High School
The lock-in was an essential bonding process that helped to reveal positive and negative aspects of our team that we could work on for the season. In addition, the games Coach Fitz had us play unified teammates in a way we had yet to achieve.
- Zach Adams
Football Player '18
Glenbrook South High School
Fitz has an energy that, if bottled, would reap huge profits. Fortunately, that energy that he exudes ultimately stands to benefit the audiences with whom he works.
Having coordinated many events with Fitz over the last fifteen years, I can attest that the desired results remain evident for the long haul.
- Joe May
Teacher, Coach, Colleague
Carmel Catholic High School
I have worked with Fitz as my counselor, off and on, for over a decade. He has helped me work on everyday issues (work, marriage, parenting), along with major, life defining challenges and events. Fitz does not give me advice. He helps me to ask myself questions...and then provides a safe place for me to have the courage to answer those questions on my own. He is good stuff.
The lock-ins that Mike Fitzgibbons run are season-changing. In the short time the girls spend under his guidance, they are taught several powerful lessons. They learn teamwork through a variety of trust and bonding experiences. They learn thru games how to build their dreams of the season ahead. And through reflections and conversations they begin to live their vision. As a member of a team sport, my girls entered the season ahead of 99% of their opponents because they were a cohesive-streamlined unit. They believed in their vision. They believed in themselves. They believes in one another. They believed they could accomplish anything. And they were right.
- Katie Tilton
Girls' Field Hockey Coach
I have had the fortune of working closely with Mike Fitzgibbons in a diverse set of group his leadership roles. Fitz has boundless kindness and compassion for students and adults and is always sensitive to the needs around him. He excels at guiding retreat groups and provides a strong foundation for personal growth of all involved. Fitz has an extraordinary ability to connect with people on a deeply personal level. His anecdotes are tethered with wisdom that comes from his life experience yet are always relatable as Fitz is able to frame them as the situation requires. Personally, I have grown while serving alongside him as retreat leaders!
Principal, Pius XI Catholic High School
I began seeing Mike at a time in my life where the stress of trying to balance work and family had
created a sense of feeling lost. I woke up every day feeling like I was going thru the motions trying to
survive instead of live. Thru many sessions with Mike and thinking about things we discussed I have
come to understand myself and what’s important at a much deeper level. I can truly say I am not the
same person I was a few years ago because of Mike. Life is meant to be enjoyed not something we mark
time with. Thank you Mike.
I first met Mike Fitzgibbons in his role as a football coach and religious instructor at Carmel Catholic High School. Fitz, as he is known, runs the Kairos Retreat Program that many Carmel students, including my children, consider the highlight of their high school experience. Fitz is the former head football coach and is regarded as one of the best communicators for young people as anyone in the IHSA. The last couple of years I have been blessed to announce Carmel Catholic football games over the radio with Fitz. Fitz is incredibly talented. Coach Fitz is funny, interesting, charismatic and a thrill to work with and listen to on the radio. Coach Fitz is a faithful Catholic with a consistent message of Christ’s love and forgiveness. I do not know of anyone that embodies the concept of Carmel Catholic and Christian service more than Mike Fitzgibbons.
- Mark Curran
Sheriff, Lake County, Illinois