NORWALK, Conn. -- After the death of Carver Center recreation director Mike McElveen in April, basketball director Terrence Fuller reached out to his network to help keep the Norwalk basketball program through a rocky transition.
Fuller turned to several men who know Norwalk, and its basketball community, better than most. He landed former Brien McMahon basketball star Dwight Vaughn, Norwalk High assistant coach Darrick Eason, Anthony Hill, a former Norwalk High star with head coaching experience at several high schools in the state.
Coupled with a coaching roster that includes Chronne Rogers, the longest active coach in the program, long-time coach Dave Williams, and former Norwalk stars T.J. Trimboli and Lamar Tate, Fuller feels the program is on stable ground as it moves forward following the passing of McElveen, who was the heart and soul of TMT’s basketball program.
“We needed to stabilize the program,’’ Fuller said. “They helped me keep the program grounded. We couldn’t do it alone. Mike and I started the program in 2001, but he was the catalyst in running the day to day operations. Once he passed, I needed them to help me step back from coaching and handle some of the administrative work for the program. I got guys who are great coaches, know the game of basketball and are here to help the kids.They’re pouring their hearts out for the kids of Norwalk.”
Fuller finds Vaughn and the other new additions to the coaching staff have been good fits for the young boys at TMT Basketball. Most of them have similar backgrounds as the coaches. “He’s a solid coach and he’s played all his life,’’ Fuller said. “Like the other guys, he’s a good mentor to the kids. We’re all about teaching through the game of basketball.”
Williams, who has been in the program for seven years, said TMT stayed true to its mission after McElveen's passing. "We just had to step into his shoes for a moment,'' Williams said. "He was a big part of these kids lives. We just kept it our focus to show them how to become men. School is first, basketball is second. No books, no bull."
Hill, who has coached at several high schools throughout the state, returned to the program this year. He found TMT coaches and players worked together in the wake of McElveen's death.
"I give a lot of credit to Terrence,'' Hill said. "We all helped each other out. When you have that kind of commitment, and the leadership from Terrance, it made it easy for us to be successful on the court."
Vaughn’s team recently captured the state AAU championship and qualified to compete in a national tournament in July in Virginia. TMT Basketball is soliciting donations to help defray expenses for the 14-player team.
One of TMT Basketball's most distinguished alumni, Roy Kane, signed a letter of intent to play basketball, last month, at the University of New Haven. The former Norwalk High star, who is second in city scoring annals behind only the legendary Calvin Murphy, played one year at Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts.
“It’s important these kids realize the value of an education,’’ Vaughn said. “That’s the only thing that’s holding them back. That’s what we want to teach them. If they don’t get out of these streets, they’ll be dead or in jail. Believe me, I’ve seen it, and I don’t want that to happen to these guys. We all love these kids like they’re our own.”
HIll said he wanted to come back to TMT after being away for several years. "TMT is so important to Norwalk basketball and norwalk in terms of community,'' he said. "I've been in all different parts of the state. I just wanted to come back home. I wanted tom come back and give back to our kids."
In addition to TMT's coaching staff, Fuller said that the Carver Center has been instrumental in the establishment and maintenance of the basketball program, as it is considered to be TMT's home. "I can't thank Novelette (Director of the Carver Center) and her staff enough for all of their support throughout the years," said Fuller.
To make a donation to TMT Basketball for its tournament in Virginia, contact Fuller at 203-515-7775, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or make checks payable to: TMT Basketball, P.O. Box 134, Norwalk, CT 06852.
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