DOWNEY - Ryan Fitzl, newly-installed president of the Downey Kiwanis Los Amigos Club that meets early in the morning every Wednesday, says growing up in the small town of Johnsburg, Illinois, where he was born, about an hour northwest of Chicago, "was all about sports."
He estimates its population then at 2,000-3,000 inhabitants.
"We played every sport imaginable," says Fitzl, the youngest of five children (two brothers and two sisters). "Even when winter time would come, we would either be skiing or grabbing our skates and going to the pond to play hockey."
He goes on to describe how his love for sports grew.
"Baseball is my favorite sport. I played it since I could walk. I started out as a third baseman until I got a chance to catch a game, and I never left [my place] behind the plate. The other sport I played as a kid and still do as an adult is bowling. I started bowling at age 6. During high school I worked at our local bowling alley, Raymond's Bowl. I still bowl today."
His interest in sports is so all-encompassing that he doesn't run out of teams or sports heroes in different sports to root for: in football, it's the Green Bay Packers; in baseball, it's the Braves (Milwaukee/Atlanta); in basketball, it's the Lakers and Kobe; in hockey, it's the Detroit Red Wings; and in bowling, Walter Ray Williams is on top of his list of great ones.
Fitzl says he has bowled a perfect score of 300 on six different occasions, the last one only last Sept. 15th playing with 21 Century My Real Estate associate Russell Skersick.
Fitzl recounts how he came to Downey: "After high school I worked a number of different jobs [in Johnsburg], from pharmacy technician to working in accounts receivable for CDW, a computer company. Then in 2009, the economy wasn't doing so well, and there wasn't much work in Northern Illinois. So I called my brother, Jeremy, who moved to Los Angeles in 1992 to attend USC, if he could help me out if I moved to Los Angeles. He was living, and still lives, in Manhattan Beach.
"So that July I drove 2,000 miles from Johnsburg to Los Angeles, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Jeremy helped me get a job for the company he worked for, L'Abri Management. I was introduced to the owner, Ron Kolar, and they offered me a job as a property manager. I started managing about 13 units at first. Now I have five buildings with a total of 50 units that I manage. I am grateful to Mr. Kolar and my brother for giving me a chance."
Fitzl goes on: "While I was managing [the properties] I started studying to get my real estate license through Century 21 My Real Estate in Downey. I did get my license in 2010 and, in addition to L'Abri, started working for Steve and Darlene Roberson. I couldn't be more blessed working for these two people. They made me feel right at home, and it is a great office to work for."
It was also through Jeremy (today a top executive at L'Abri), who he says is older than him by nine years, that he got introduced to Kiwanis.
"He invited me to breakfast one morning at the Rio Hondo Event Center," Ryan narrates. "He was then Kiwanis president. I went to a few meetings here and there, and really started to understand what the club was about, how it was about giving back to the city of Downey and helping out the kids in the city."
"It didn't take me long to become a member," he says. "In 2011 I was the vice president of the club, in 2012 I was the president-elect, and then last Oct. 1st I was inducted as president of the club."
"It's a great honor," he continues. "My goal for this year is to get out into the city and be hands-on. The members of this club have set the standard throughout the 50-plus years of its existence. I want to leave my mark getting out into the city helping anyway we can and also keep the tradition that all of the other past presidents set before me."
Fitzl says that, at age 31, he is the youngest member in Downey Los Amigos Kiwanis.
He belongs to a working family. His dad, who is of German descent and was born in Marshfield, Wisconsin, has been a cement truck mechanic for over 35 years and still works today. So does his mom; born in Fox Lake, Illinois, of Irish ancestry, she has worked as a waitress for over 30 years, and still does today.
His other siblings are other brother, Scott, and sisters, Kelly and Cherilyn.
Travel and taking trips to Dallas are favorite activities. He has been to Belize, Jamaica Vancouver, and a few other places. He has a couple of close friends he visits in the Dallas area every chance he gets.
He got married only last June. Wife Malia has a couple of daughters, Mickenzie, 7, who is in second grade, and Madison, 5, who is in kindergarten.
"A household of all women might drive me crazy sometimes, but I wouldn't change a thing," Fitzl says. "I love being a husband and love being a father."
Work, family, Kiwanis-it's a lot of work, Fitzl says, but, "It's not hard. I love what I do."
And that includes his bowling.
********** Published: Oct. 17, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 27