Finding Flagler: A Journey Deeper Than Basketball

Chase Fiddler cut's his piece of the net after Flagler won the South Region Championship in 2021. (Photo courtesy of @__chase_ via instagram).

By Nicholas Leo

After getting kicked off his first college team and taking a two year break from basketball, Chase Fiddler received a phone call giving him one more shot on the court.

Fiddler played with Kip Owens in his time at the University of Alabama Huntsville, and while Fiddler had been removed from the game, Owens was 800 miles away making his way as an assistant coach at Flagler College. Owens approached Fiddler while he was living in Texas before the start of the 2019-2020 season, and convinced him to commit to Flagler’s program before ever visiting the St. Augustine campus.

“Coming down here they just threw me in a house with two, three other guys. I was in a spot with some really good teammates. Being with them for three months before school started back up and everyone was on campus, it gave me a good idea on what Flagler really stood for and who we were as a program,” Fiddler said.

Getting acclimated to the change of scenery was a culture shock for Fiddler, as he grew up in the city of Huntsville and his previous school had over triple Flagler’s student body. Having to adapt to a small community again was tough, but having this newfound second family of coaches and teammates helped the transition.

Fiddler laying the ball up in practice during the 2021-22 season. (Photo courtesy of @flaglermbb via instagram).

When his debut finally came around, Fiddler hadn’t played in a live competitive basketball game in over a thousand days.

“I was nervous. My family had come down and just getting in the game for the first time after being away from competition for so long,” Fiddler said.

Fiddler would only play eight minutes in that first game. With a more established role come playoffs, Fiddler would average over 16 minutes per game in Flagler’s run to NCAA DII Final Four.

“Coming from where I came from and then coming down here and being told ‘you’re about to make it to the Final Four’ it’s like, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Fiddler. “I lived in Texas with no family to then coming down here where I had 17 brothers, uncles, dads, whatever you want to call them. It was amazing.”

Since Fiddlers freshman campaign, his minutes have gone up so has his play with a steady increase in all of the 5 major statistical categories each year. This past season reaching top 10 in the Peach Belt Conference in both steals and blocks per game.

When looking back on his unconventional route, and how different this team and community is from his home, Fiddler’s shocked that he had the opportunity to be here.

“I mean I have goosebumps right now just thinking about it. My parents just wanted me to go to college, and when I got that call from Kip, they were like, ‘this might be the last chance’,” said Fiddler. “To be able to make good on what I told my parents I was going to do, to give them that satisfaction. That makes me feel really good.”

Fiddler’s appreciative of the stepping stone that Flagler was for him. He enters the transfer portal with two years of eligibility left as he looks to recover from a broken hand and continue his degree in Sports Management.

“I am so grateful for everyone and every experience that I have shared here for the past three years,” said Fiddler. “St. Augustine and Flagler College will always feel like home to me.”

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