"He's the best I've seen at his position at WPI," said assistant football coach Merl Norcross in 1975. Merl made that same statement a few months ago, as WPI's most esteemed coach emeritus. Apparently, nothing has changed in 30 years.
The question is, who is the best defensive end ever at WPI? The answer is Jack Fitzgibbons.
Even if one doesn't take Merl's opinion as gospel (sacrilegious as that may be), others confirm that Jack was and remains the best defensive end in WPI history. Athletics administrator Phil Grebinar, also a member of the 1975 coaching staff, said recently, "I haven't seen anyone better than Jack Fitzgibbons, and I've been around for a while." In a WPI-Bowdoin game article written by Michael B. Fallon of the Worcester Evening Gazette, the late Mel Massucco said of his star player, "If I wanted to show a young defensive end how to play the position, I'd show him the films of Fitzie in the Bowdoin game. He was that good."
Unfortunately, defensive statistics were not recorded in that era, making it difficult to quantify Jack's achievements on the field. (In fact, it was many years later before the NCAA recognized defensive stats.) But Jack had an uncanny ability to manhandle opposing offensive linemen. If tackles-for-loss and sacks were maintained then as they are now, no doubt Jack would have a bundle of each. And it's almost a sure bet he led his team in tackling in those years.
One thing's for sure: he played in every quarter of every game throughout his career. He was a starter in his last three seasons, and was a team captain his senior year. He also played an extremely good brand of golf for four years at WPI, and captained that squad as a senior.
Jack graduated with a B.S. in civil engineering; four years later, he received an MBA from Northeastern. While at WPI, he was a member of Chi Epsilon, the civil engineering honor society; he was president of his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and was elected to Skull.
Today, Jack is vice president of H. Carr & Sons, headquartered in Providence. He is a construction executive for a firm that works on commercial buildings in southeastern New England. He and his wife (who recently celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary) live in North Attleboro; they have one daughter.
For all his impressive credentials, it is with great honor that Jack Fitzgibbons is inducted into the WPI Athletic Hall of Fame.