Tournament honors Ugolyn’s legacy

Fairfield County Catholic

All Star Boys: Andrew Hickey and Jacob Krasznai, St. Catherine of Siena, Trumbull; Jack Soucy and Jack Feeney, Our Lady of Fatima; Nick Lombardi and Brian Noone, Trinity Catholic Middle School, Stamford; Bobby Sullivan and Jack Kelly, St. Theresa, Trumbull; Zachary Hurd and Matt Pinho, All Saints, Norwalk; Adam Stone and Grant Purpura, St. Aloysius, New Canaan; Luke Finnegan, Matty Clarkin, and Max Mulquin, St. Thomas Aquinas, Fairfield; (l) Coach Terry O’Sullivan; (r) coach and pastor Fr. Reggie Norman. Missing from photo: Jack Scholl and Louis Guzzi of St. Thomas.

All Star Boys: Andrew Hickey and Jacob Krasznai, St. Catherine of Siena, Trumbull; Jack Soucy and Jack Feeney, Our Lady of Fatima; Nick Lombardi and Brian Noone, Trinity Catholic Middle School, Stamford; Bobby Sullivan and Jack Kelly, St. Theresa, Trumbull; Zachary Hurd and Matt Pinho, All Saints, Norwalk; Adam Stone and Grant Purpura, St. Aloysius, New Canaan; Luke Finnegan, Matty Clarkin, and Max Mulquin, St. Thomas Aquinas, Fairfield; (l) Coach Terry O’Sullivan; (r) coach and pastor Fr. Reggie Norman. Missing from photo: Jack Scholl and Louis Guzzi of St. Thomas.

The Seventh Annual Tyler Ugolyn Basketball Tournament, held mid-season at Our Lady Fatima School, honored Tyler Ugolyn, who graduated from Our Lady of Fatima school in 1997 and tragically died during the 9/11 terrorist attack.

“We had 48 teams from 12 schools within the diocese participate, over 500 basketball players in all” says Peter Rubsam, Our Lady of Fatima’s JV coach, who ran the tournament. “We also had an All Star game for both the boys and girls varsity teams” (seventh and eighth graders).This year, Our Lady of Fatima’s pastor, Father Reggie Norman, coached one of the boys teams.

Ugolyn went to Ridgefield High School, where he became a member of the National Honor Society. He was a McDonald’s High School All-American Basketball nominee, ranked as one of the top 250 seniors in the country, before deciding to attend Columbia where he was recruited to play Division 1 basketball.

All Star Girls: Bridget Paulman and Julia Sendzik, , St. Thomas; Lizzie Lynch, Jessica Highland, and Caroline Sweeny, Our Lady of Fatima; Sarah Jablonski and Juliana Burkem, Trinity Catholic; Gabby Joseph and Tatiana Arias, All Saints; Kalissa DeStefano, Delila DeStefano and Olivia Giovannini, St. Stephen Parish team from Trumbull and Monroe. Missing from photo, Olivia Ramos, St. Stephen; and Krista Shultz and Samantha Lubas from St. Theresa.

All Star Girls: Bridget Paulman and Julia Sendzik, , St. Thomas; Lizzie Lynch, Jessica Highland, and Caroline Sweeny, Our Lady of Fatima; Sarah Jablonski and Juliana Burkem, Trinity Catholic; Gabby Joseph and Tatiana Arias, All Saints; Kalissa DeStefano, Delila DeStefano and Olivia Giovannini, St. Stephen Parish team from Trumbull and Monroe. Missing from photo, Olivia Ramos, St. Stephen; and Krista Shultz and Samantha Lubas from St. Theresa.

“Not only was Tyler a great basketball player, he was a great person and a devout Catholic,” says Rubsam.

While at Columbia his faith grew stronger and he became a co-founder of the Columbia Catholic Athletes and a Eucharistic Minister. When his knees gave out playing basketball, he formed a basketball program for Harlem youth at the Columbia gym every Sunday morning.

Ugolyn’s favorite saying came from his grandmother: “Yesterday was history; Tomorrow is a mystery; Today is a gift from God!”

Founded after his death, the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to promoting youth basketball programs and the refurbishment of inner-city basketball courts. Courts have been renovated in Tyler’s memory all across the country in conjunction with the NCAA Men’s Final Four, including cities such as San Antonio, Detroit, Indianapolis and Houston.

“This year our tournament donated $1,000 to the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation,” Rubsam says.

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