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Draper Journal

JDCHS basketball player follows grandpa’s footsteps to college

Jul 31, 2018 02:27PM ● By Catherine Garrett

Draper’s Matt Kitzman celebrated with his family after signing with Hobart College to play basketball. His grandfather, Roger Kitzman (pictured on far right), was the captain of the basketball and soccer teams at Hobart in the early 1960s. (Picture courtesy Matt Kitzman)

By Catherine Garrett | [email protected] 

When recently graduated Juan Diego Catholic High School basketball player Matt Kitzman decided to play at Hobart College, the first phone call he made was to Hobart’s head coach Tim Sweeney — and the second call was to his grandfather, Roger Kitzman. The 18-year-old couldn’t wait to tell his grandpa, a two-sport star from Hobart College in the early 1960s, that he would also head to Geneva, New York to play college ball.

“Grandpa gave me the full scoop on Hobart, but I got to know the school myself on a visit in April,” Matt Kitzman said. “I loved it. The coaches and guys on the team were great. I just loved the atmosphere and it checked all the boxes I was looking for.”

“Hobart College is a great fit for Matt,” JDCHS head basketball coach Drew Trost said. “He will be really successful there.”

Sweeney said they are “very excited” Matt is joining the program.

“He is a very competitive player that caught my attention with the way he carried himself on the basketball court,” Sweeney said. “He is fundamentally sound in each phase of the game, but more importantly brings a winner’s mentality to do whatever is necessary to compete.”

The son of Jon and Sharon Kitzman was a three-year starter for the Soaring Eagle varsity squad and helped lead them to three consecutive state championship games — and three second-place finishes in the state. This past season, the team captain averaged 15 points a game, while switching to the point guard position after playing as shooting guard the past two years, and was named First Team All-State.

“Matt had a fantastic senior year,” Trost said. “He was a leader by example before, but he really stepped up this year as a leader on the court. I’ve seen him get a lot better over the years and he ended high school with just a terrific year.”

Basketball has been a part of Matt’s life since he was five years old and, although he also played baseball and football, he chose the hardwood to focus on in the sixth grade because he simply loved basketball more than the others. He played on competitive teams in Ohio and then Utah and continued on in the sport that has taught him how to be a leader, communicate and work as part of a team — lessons he uses off the court as well.

He credits Coach Trost and the other JDCHS middle school and high school coaches, his AAU coach Mike Wilson, his parents and his grandfather for their role in his development to becoming a college athlete.

“Signing with Hobart was like a five-minute celebration,” Matt Kitzman said. “Now, I’m focused on being the best that I can be and playing right away in college.”

“Matt seems to affect his teammates in a very positive way with his competitiveness and we believe he will do the same for us at Hobart,” Sweeney said. “Matt has an excellent ‘feel’ on the court — and knows when to shoot, when to pass and how to make simple plays that win games.”