“I couldn’t believe my Son’s a pro.” Those were one of the first thoughts that ran through the mind of Tim McConnell, the longtime head coach of the Chartiers Valley boys’ basketball team. Just recently, his son T.J. McConnell, a CV alumnus and University of Arizona graduate, signed with the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA. Upon hearing the news, the reaction was met with strong emotions.
“I was filled up and started to cry,” Coach McConnell explained. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think that my Son was good enough, but he kept having goals in his life.”
According to Coach McConnell, T.J. was a long shot to even play college basketball, let alone make it to the professional level.
“People said, ‘you’re never gonna be able to do that,” in reference to his son’s dream of playing Division I basketball. “Well, he went and played Division I basketball and got a scholarship.”
T.J.’s thoughts evolved into a dream of playing professionally. But again, as had been the case in high school, the odds were stacked against him.
“When he was at Duquesne, he said he wanted to play at a higher level,” explained Coach McConnell. “People said ‘you can’t go to a higher level and be successful.” “Yet, he went to Arizona and had a great career.”
Through his college experience, what was the main question T.J. had? It was simply, “Why not the NBA?”
According to a lot of the scouting reports, it was the same problems: he was not good enough, he was not big enough, he was not athletic enough, among other things. Yet, as said by his proud Father, “He has defied the odds.”
“This is a great product of where hard work and determination will get you.” said Coach McConnell.
As for the family, it was the same feeling all around.
“Everyone was just overjoyed; I called my Mother, my Sister, my Brother, and spread the word.” He continued saying “My Wife was crying; everyone was just so happy.”
Now, it is time to rejoice in this momentous occasion. When asked how he and his family planned to celebrate, Coach McConnell said “We’re heading to his first home game out at Philly Friday night.”
When asked what his overall thoughts were on his son making it to the NBA, among other alumni of Chartiers Valley who have made it to a professional sports league, he said “The mind is a powerful thing, and it’s what drives you and tells you you can accomplish anything, and it’s demonstrated by the athletes that are from this school playing professionally.”
It was not all reserved to just the McConnell family in terms of who was excited. The energy on Campus the day after the news came out was ecstatic. Digital Newspaper teacher Mr. Kallet joyfully exclaimed “this is fantastic news!”
The dream has become a reality. A young man from a community in Western Pennsylvania who was told he would never make it to his dream has beaten the barriers, burned the doubters, and not only made a mark for himself, but the school district from which he came. What a time it is.