Dreams come true for Hurley
Ask any athlete and they will say there is nothing quite like representing your country for the first time.
Fonthill native T.J. Hurley got to do just that recently when he was named to Team Canada for the 2023 FIBA U19 World Cup in Debrecen, Hungary. The basketball event ran from June 24 to July 2.
The former E.L. Crossley student was one of 50 athletes invited to a mini-training camp held Easter weekend. From there, 14 athletes were selected to attend a training camp and exhibition tournament in Croatia. After the tournament ended, 12 players were named to Team Canada.
It was a memorable moment when he heard he had been selected for the squad.
“One of my dreams had come true. I had always dreamed of playing for the national team since I was a kid, representing my country and playing the sport that I love.”
The dream continued when he saw his uniform for the first time.
“Walking into the locker room and seeing my jersey hanging up with my last name and the Canadian flag on it was a crazy feeling,” the 19-year-old said. “It made me realize how much this game means to me and how much it can do for me.”
The national team tournament capped an incredible few months for the Vermont scholarship player, who played in his first NCAA tournament and was named to the America East All-Rookie Team after averaged 5.1 points, 1.7 rebounds, and a 41.2 three-point percentage in 31 games played.
“Even over the last year it seemed like everything has been paying off for me. I am hoping things are going to continue to come my way. I am going to remember it all but I am still working hard so I can create more things like this for myself.”
Canada ended seventh in the tournament after defeating Japan 107-58. Hurley’s role on the team was to come off the bench.
“I would say I was one of the best shooters on the team so my role was to come in, knock down shots, handle the ball for the team and make plays happen offensively. But then also defensively, I had to be able to guard my position and do a little bit of everything.”
His favourite moments at the tournament were the memories made away from the court.
“It was getting to travel over to Europe and getting to create relationships with all the other best players around the country. It was cool to meet them and learn their backgrounds and see how my journey related to theirs.”
It was also a great learning experience.
“It was getting a taste of what basketball can do for me and getting to travel the world. I want to keep doing that and I want to keep working hard so I will able to travel the world with basketball. I loved every part of it and being able to play against some of the best players from around the world and every country was amazing.”
The international experience was a good opportunity to see where his game needs to go to get to an even higher level.
“I have to keep being aggressive and looking for my shot and try to be more of a leader on my team. I want to lead my team to more wins.”
Hurley is back training in Vermont and he will be there until August before he gets a two-week break at home.
“Right now we are doing our summer training program here,” he said. “It’s a lot of skill development stuff. We have a lot of new guys this year so it’s reintroducing all the concepts and all the systems we run. There is also a lot of weight lifting as well, trying to get stronger before the season starts. I am getting ready to have another good year here.”
Hurley was home for three weeks in May and helped with the Pelham Panthers spring league on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. He was training players on the side as well.
When he is home in August, Hurley and his father, Mike, will be running the Hurley Hoops Summer Camp at the Pelham Community Centre on Aug. 15-17.
The schedule includes: Grades 3-4 from 3 to 5 p.m.; Grades 5-6 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.; Grades 7-8 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; and, high school players from 7 to 9 p.m.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and registration details.