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Steve Geoghegan column: NYBA brings youth to a

new level of hoops

A new youth basketball league in Norwalk has taken root and eventually it will

bloom with well-rounded players, on and off the court.

To keep up with other youth programs in Fairfield County, Norwalk has established

the Norwalk Youth Basketball Association (NYBA), a boys travel basketball program

which will consist of teams in grades 5 through 8 and will compete in the Fairfield

County Basketball League (FCBL), as well as in local tournaments.

Through the efforts of Matt McQuillen, commissioner of the NYBA, the youth of

Norwalk now have a league that can quench the thirst of players who want to

improve their skills and go up against tougher competition.

"We are fortunate in Fairfield County to have a tremendously well-run travel

basketball league," McQuillen said. "Our goal is to build a first-class travel program

that will give Norwalk boys the same opportunity to play basketball that exists in

our neighboring towns."

The NYBA, a non-profit organization, will focus on the development of basketball

skills for teams and players and will also provide an academic support system to

ensure its participants excel both in school and on the court. It's a great

opportunity for kids who want to become better players without neglecting their


The formation of the NYBA began during the 2009-2010 winter season when a team

representing Norwalk's Recreation and Parks Department Biddy Basketball program

participated in the FCBL.

"It made natural sense," said Jean Trimboli, director of the Biddy program in her

30th year. "We have over 600 boys in our Biddy program in grades K-8 and many of

them want to spend more time playing basketball and compete against the best

players in Fairfield County. The NYBA will give those boys that opportunity."

This past winter season, two teams representing the Biddy program participated in

the FCBL season and the infrastructure supporting the teams grew. And this past

summer, open tryouts were held for all Norwalk boys for the FCBL summer league,

which is run out of Darien High School, and the turnout was tremendous, McQuillen


"Over 60 boys tried out and we quickly pulled enough coaches together to place

five teams in the league, more than any town in the county. That's when we knew

we had to re-organize ourselves to accommodate future growth."

It will certainly pay off now and in the future, basically serving as a feeder program

to Norwalk and Brien McMahon high schools. The head coaches at the schools, Mo

Tomlin at McMahon and Tom Keyes at Norwalk, are on the board of directors for

the NYBA and are directors of player development.

Both coaches jumped at the chance to work with the NYBA and prepare their

future players for the rigors of high school basketball.

"The youth are our future, not just in basketball but in life," said Tomlin, who is

going into his fifth season at McMahon. "Any way I can help them grow I'm all in. I

am grateful for the parents and volunteers who take the time to work with our

youth. It is greatly needed, (because) they are the future leaders of this city."

Keyes, who is going into his first season after serving as an assistant at Westhill,

sees his responsibilities as NHS head coach and with the NYBA going hand and hand.

"I made a commitment to engage the youth basketball programs in the city when I

took this job and I'm happy to do whatever I can to help these guys succeed," he


To fulfill the program's commitment to academic excellence, the NYBA invited

Roton Middle School Assistant Principal James Crouch to serve as academic advisor.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for me to mentor young athletes in the

community and develop outstanding student-athletes," said Crouch, who is in his

second year at Roton. "There is a plethora of talent in Norwalk and we plan to

develop these boys so that they will be successful in both the classroom and on the

court when they get to high school."

Trimboli said that McQuillen has done a great job with getting the program off the

ground and she stated the NYBA is here to stay.

"It's been really exciting to be involved in this program from the start," said

Trimboli, who will serve as director of operations for the NYBA and will manage the

relationship with the Biddy program. "We're basically taking the next step in

creating more basketball powerhouses and basketball history for the City of


There's no doubt the NYBA will bear fruit and the high schools, and ultimately the

community, will benefit from this program.

Tryouts for boys in fifth and sixth grades will be held Wednesday, Oct. 19 and Oct.

26 at West Rocks Middle School from 6:30-8 p.m. Registration starts at 6 p.m. For

boys in seventh and eighth grades, tryouts will be held Friday, Oct. 21 and

Wednesday, Oct. 26 at Roton Middle School from 6:15-8 p.m. with registration at 6


To learn more about the NYBA, go to the website at norwalkhoops.org or contact

Matt McQuillen at or Jean Trimboli at