By Jason MacBain
The nation knows him as a member of Dunk City. Fans know him as FGCU’s only senior. The locals he served food to over the summer know him simply as Chase. But Chase Fieler’s teammates have bestowed on him the most appropriate name yet – “The Golden Boy.”
The Golden Boy is also the All-American Boy, and it starts with his humility. He laughs off the ‘Golden Boy’ nickname. Ask him about being voted as the Atlantic Sun’s Preseason Player of the Year by the fans and he’ll tell you it’s a great honor but it wouldn’t be possible without his teammates.
Those same teammates have him as a captain one year after helping FGCU become the first-ever No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, captivating a nation with its high-flying aerial attack and putting the Fort Myers-based school on the map. FGCU went on to win an ESPY for ‘Best Upset’ and Fieler was on stage in Los Angeles in June to accept the award.
It could have all gone to his head. Instead, he’s done the exact opposite of what his playing style would indicate – stay grounded. He went home to West Virginia this summer and did the same thing he’s done every summer: work at a sports center. After that, he returned to campus to participate in offseason workouts … and work as a waiter at Cheddar’s Casual Café down the street from the beach-lined, resort-style campus.
Why? If you ask Fieler it’s because he knows the sacrifices his parents made for him growing up, and it was an easy way to relieve some financial stress on them.
His peers don’t just look up to Fieler because he’s 6-8. He’s the rare student-athlete who backs up his sometimes wise-cracking words. A member of the Dirty Birds – FGCU’s student fan organization – since the group’s founding, you can often find Fieler right in the middle of the pack, adorned in the same gear as his peers and leading the vocal charges.
Ask Associate Head Coach Marty Richter who he wants his soon-to-be-born child to grow up and be like. He’ll tell you Chase Fieler. If that’s the case, he’ll turn out to be a model citizen. He might even be able to dunk a little, too.