CHOTEAU — At a Tuesday track meet in Choteau, Cut Bank senior Abbi Fitzpatrick had a lot on her mind.
In addition to competing in four track events, she also made a choice that will shape the next four years of her life and beyond.
“Today’s decision day,” she said. “It was between Brown University and Dartmouth College. I chose Dartmouth. I’m really happy, excited for next year.”
Fitzpatrick plans to major in Environment Studies and Engineering at Dartmouth, where her sister Shelbi is a junior. There are aren’t a lot of central Montana students who get the opportunity to go to an Ivy League school, but there also aren’t a lot of students like Abbi Fitzpatrick.
She’s a star athlete, finishing 13th at State B cross country this fall, earning all-state honors, and this spring she’s one of the leaders on the Wolves’ track team. Fitzpatrick currently has the Northern B’s fourth-best time in the 800-meter run (2 minutes, 39.95 seconds), the sixth-best time in the 1,600-meter race (6:09.62), and the third-best pole vault mark (9 feet).
The District 1B meet Saturday in Great Falls and next week’s Northern B divisional will give her a chance to qualify for state for a third consecutive season. Her best finish across all of her events was seventh in pole vault as a junior, one spot out of placing. She hopes to make the podium this year.
“The season is going great,” she said. “I’m getting times that I should be getting at state. I’m just a distance runner at heart, it takes a lot of grit and endurance. But pole vault is really fun, too. I enjoy it.”
But in her community, she’s more than just a track star. She’s a hero.
Two years ago, Abbi created the Glacier County Healthy Food Project, raising more than $6,500 and donating more than 350 boxes of food to low-income families and others that don’t have access to nutritional foods in areas known as “food deserts”.
“In the box are fruits and vegetables, and also I make little brochures of recipes that they can do with the food,” she said. “I’ve seen a need in my community. I live in an area where people don’t have access to nutritional food. So I’ve donated to the Heart Butte area, where it’s hard to get food. I’ve donated to the Browning area and the Cut Bank area.”
Her community involvement and athletic endeavors have earned her several scholarships and grants, including $20,000 from the Foot Locker Scholar Athlete Program, one of only 20 such honors handed out nationwide.
“It was incredible,” she recalled. “It was a huge shock. I didn’t expect it. It was amazing.”
Fitzpatrick’s father, Dennis Fitzpatrick, is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet tribe, and most of her family lives on the reservation. As such, she knows firsthand the struggles facing tribal communities. She also knows opportunities like hers are rare for many in the region, so she plans to make the most of her blessings to help the people and community that raised her.
“It’s amazing, I’m grateful to have those opportunities,” she said. “And it’s something that I really push for and am really proud of to break those stereotypes. I just try my best to do it every day.”
With the same grit she uses on the track.