The Miracle No One Expected

The Miracle No One Expected


The Miracle No One Expected

Why the Story of T.J. McConnell Stands Out


Why the Story of T.J. McConnell Stands Out

“I couldn’t believe my son’s a pro.” Those were 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.

“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.”

As for the new Sixer, he never stopped believing in the fundamentals instilled in him by his time spent at Chartiers Valley High School. “What was taught to me by the teachers and coaches still applies now;  never give up on a dream.”

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 question that comes up is however, what makes this story special? I mean, anyone can achieve this level of success as a professional athlete right? Well, not exactly. The hardest sport to make it in is in fact, Basketball. On average, the majority of players that tryout for say, an NFL roster will make at least the practice squad. In the NBA, you’re competing against a handful of other candidates with better skill sets and a better understanding of the fundamentals. Against all odds, Tj made the roster, and has proven to be one of the best rookies in the NBA; being the only player in NBA history to have 12 assists in two of his first four games.

Not only that, McConnell has defied the odds by actually making an NBA roster. He was projected to go late in the draft, (he went undrafted), and was expected to play overseas and maybe get a shot in the pros. Yet, through perseverance and a blue-collar attitude towards technique and success, McConnell is living his dream. It’s something to marvel at, and should inspire others to reach new levels of success.


More USA TODAY High School Sports