The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, May 27, 2020 1:00 am

Virus interrupts work of Cadets athlete, artist

Fritcha loses senior tennis season but will finish mural in school

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

Elle Fritcha didn't get to play her senior tennis season, but she hasn't finished leaving her mark at Concordia. 


She hopes to return to the building this summer to finish the mural she's been painting on the wall next to the principal's office. 

“Right now, it's a blue wall,” Fritcha said. “It's got some letters in the background that I'm halfway done painting, that I was working on literally right before we had to stay home, so it's really not finished at all.

“I have my sketch done and everything. I'm going to have to go and finish it up when I'm allowed back in school.”

Fritcha has always tried to balance a wide variety of interests: She played soccer, swam for nine years and was on a competitive diving team as a kid. She's played golf, basketball and tennis at Concordia and has signed to play both basketball and tennis at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

She has also enjoyed drawing from a young age, and when Concordia fine arts teacher Trevor Campbell offered her the opportunity to put her stamp on a wall at the school, she wanted to incorporate as many different experiences as possible. She said that she made a document listing some of the fond memories shared by other Concordia students and alumni with the plan of representing many of them on the mural.

“And I'm sitting in (the art) classroom one day looking at the wall, and there was a poster of this face on it. And it was split up into different colors, and it looked really cool,” Fritcha recalled. “And I was like, Mr. Campbell, I'm going to use a picture of that, and use that as an idea. And he was like, all right, show me your sketch.”

In addition to her painting, Fritcha's final high school season was also interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, a disappointment that was slightly tempered by the fact that she will get to continue to play in college. 

“It is a little bittersweet, because tennis season is my favorite season,” Fritcha said. “It's nice to be outside after being in the cold winter and being inside during basketball season. It's so different. I do miss it, because right before we had the lockdown, I was doing lessons every Saturday with my pro and a bunch of other girls. It's just so much fun.

“On our calendar right now, we have all the dates written down. My mom had put them on our calendar. And I'll look and say, 'Oh my goodness, we should be at DeKalb right now playing tennis,' or 'We should be at Warsaw right now.' 'Today's the Concordia Invitational.'”

Fritcha said she believes she is the first female athlete to attempt to play both basketball and tennis at Concordia Ann Arbor.

When her father first suggested that she might be able to play tennis in college last summer, she thought it was a far-fetched plan.

“Then I actually texted one of my friends, because she plays tennis there,” Fritcha said. “We met the next morning, and I asked her about it, if it was a possibility. And she was like, yes, of course.

“And I went to my tennis match that night, and then coach (Kiefer) Haffey, the basketball coach from Concordia Ann Arbor texted me. So it was literally one day: Yes you can play tennis, yes, you can play basketball.”

Fritcha said she thought about studying art in college, but now she's leaning toward pursuing yet another of her interests: biomedical science.

“I want to focus on genetics. I took a bio-med class at our school in my sophomore year, and I loved it, and genetics has always stood out to me,” Fritcha said.

“I love pathology and epidemiology, and this sounds weird, but the study of viruses and bacteria, and the genetics of that. As horrible as it is, and as bad as it is, it's interesting.”

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