OLF Catholic Academy to Host 13th Annual Tyler Ugolyn Memorial Basketball Tournament & Sneaker Drive

The 13th Annual Tyler Ugolyn Basketball Tournament will be held Friday, Jan. 24 through Friday, Feb. 7, at Our Lady Of Fatima Catholic Academy in Wilton. This event honors the memory of Tyler Ugolyn, a Fatima graduate who perished in the 9/11 terrorist attack.

“This year’s tournament will include 43 teams across six divisions,” noted OLFCA athletic director Rob Benedetto. “Thirteen schools are participating from all over Connecticut and New York.”

The Tournament has been a beloved tradition at Fatima for 34 years; 13 years ago, it was renamed to honor Tyler and his love of the game. Tyler is remembered as often saying, “I just love the game.”

“Every aspect of planning and running this tournament is a testament to that love:  from the way the game is played, the way the volunteers give so selflessly, and the feeling you get when you walk into the building as the entire Fatima family is involved. Even our ‘Future Falcons’ (pre-K – 2nd grade) participate,” OLFCA principal Stanley Steele explained.

After graduating from Fatima, Ugolyn attended Ridgefield High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society. He was a McDonald’s High School All-American Basketball nominee and was ranked as one of the top 250 high school seniors in the country.  After being recruited to play basketball at Columbia University, Tyler founded Columbia Catholic Athletes and ran an inner city basketball league for Harlem youth.
”Tyler truly embraced our school motto of service above self,” added Steele.

The Tournament will be held at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy (225 Danbury Rd.). More information about the tournament, including game schedules, may be found on the school’s website under the Athletics tab. The school’s students will officially kick off the Tournament with a pep rally. Tournament highlights will include an Alumni game on Saturday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m., and the Tyler Ugolyn Awards ceremony on Friday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m.. Awards are given to one 8th grade boy and girl in a ceremony expected to be attended by members of the Ugolyn family.

A portion of the Tournament proceeds will be donated to the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation. Established after Tyler’s death, the 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.

Sneaker Drive To Coincide With Tyler Ugolyn Tournament

While the Tournament is ongoing, the Youth Ministry group at Our Lady of Fatima will hold its annual Sneaker Drive. New and gently used sneakers will be collected during the Tournament at three sites–Our Lady of Fatima School, Our Lady of Fatima Church, and the children’s wing of the Wilton Library) and donated to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization.

Sneakers and athletic footwear for all ages are sought. Youth Ministry director Mara Fleming pointed out, “Tyler was an active volunteer for Big Brothers and Big Sisters. His talent was outmatched only by his generosity and selflessness. I think he’d be thrilled that we have given hundreds and hundreds of sneakers to those in need over the years.”

An original version included a date for Ugolyn’s graduation from OLF that school officials are unsure is correct. The article has been updated to remove the date.