VOL. 33, NO. 05                    NEWS AND IDEAS FOR THE COLUMBIA COMMUNITY                              NOVEMBER 19, 2007


Honoring 9/11


Victim by Helping

Local Kids

by Candace Taylor


Fans, carrying signs and decked out in Lions blue,


packed Levien Gymnasium Nov. 9 for the men’s

basketball season opener against historic rival


But perhaps the most enthusiastic fans of all were a

group of 5- to 12-year-old local kids, also wearing powderblue

Columbia T-shirts, sitting in the bleachers with their

parents. They’d just completed an hour-long multisport

clinic with Columbia coaches and athletes as part of

Tyler Ugolyn Sports Day, named in honor of a former

Columbia basketball player who died in the World Trade

Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The children, many of whom

were attending their first college sporting event, were

cheering “Let’s go, Columbia” and exchanging high-fives

with Columbia’s mascot, Roar-ee.

Tyler Ugolyn, a 2001 Columbia graduate who worked

as a research associate at Fred Alger Management on

the 93rd floor of the World Trade Center, had loved

basketball since he started shooting hoops at age 5, said

Victor Ugolyn, Tyler’s father. When his college basketball

career ended after two seasons due to tendinitis in both

knees, the 6'-4'' economics major didn’t give up the

sport; rather, he hosted basketball clinics every Sunday

morning for Harlem youth.


“This is how Tyler would want to be remembered,”

Victor Ugolyn said. “Columbia, and basketball.”

Tyler Ugolyn’s maturity and enthusiasm are qualities

that Men’s Basketball Head Coach Joe Jones seeks to

foster in his players through events like Tyler Ugolyn

Sports Day and the MVPs of Character basketball clinic

the school and the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation host each

spring. “The things he stood for are things that our

program stands for,” Jones said. “He had great character,

he was energetic, he loved people, he loved to play the

game of basketball.”

To that end, Columbia athletes played basketball,

softball, lacrosse, wrestling, golf and archery with some

122 local kids at Tyler Ugolyn Sports Day. Afterward,

the kids and their parents watched the men’s basketball

game, wearing blue T-shirts emblazoned with a

catchphrase of Tyler’s: “I just love playing the game.”

Stefan Mack, 7, a Trinity School student from Sugar

Hill, reported excitedly that he’d tried wrestling for the

first time at the clinic and learned to do a “two-legged


His mother, Stephanie Mack, said the event was perfect

for her high-energy, sports-loving son and his friends. In

addition, she said, the coaches and players are a positive

influence on kids. “It’s good for them to be exposed to

the Columbia University environment,” she said.

Columbia students and coaches are “wonderful role

models,” Victor Ugolyn said, adding that he hopes the

clinic—and Tyler’s memory—will serve as an inspiration

to kids. “We want these youngsters to know that they

can achieve anything they want to achieve in life.”

Guard Patrick Foley shoots at the Columbia-Fordham

season opener. Fordham won the game, 79-61.

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