Fun is the name of the game for Fullen and Huskies

Photos and story by Richard W. Dionne, Jr.
Posted 4/2/24

Mt. Hope coach Tom Fullen smiled while talking about this season’s unified basketball team.

“It’s the most fun that’d I have had coaching,” he said. “How can …

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Fun is the name of the game for Fullen and Huskies


Mt. Hope coach Tom Fullen smiled while talking about this season’s unified basketball team.

“It’s the most fun that’d I have had coaching,” he said. “How can you not love these kids.”

Coach Fullen has been coaching the Huskies’ unified team for 14 years and basketball and other sports for 62 years. He has coached at all different levels from youth, to middle school, to high school.

“Basketball has been my love,” he said. “Unified isn’t about winning and losing. It’s about those kids going out and having fun.”

The 8 athletes on this year’s squad have big personalities and are full of life. The 8 partners support and help the athletes during practice and on the court.

Alan Leach with ball in hand, led the Huskies through a tunnel made by the girls lacrosse team and out onto the court before their home game against Barrington on Wednesday afternoon. Leach who has lots of energy, is one of the more robust athletes on the team.

“Alan there, he’s funny,” Coach Fullen said. “He likes to dribble the ball down court. If someone comes up on him to guard him, he holds up the basketball in front of himself and waves his finger, no, no, no.”

Paige Gauthier was practicing shooting baskets from her knees before the game. She clanged one off the rim, then another off the backboard.

“One day, she’s gonna do it in a game,” Coach Fullen boasted.

Claudia Rezendes knocked down shot after shot as she practiced before the game.

“She shoots jumpers,” he said. She’s real good.”

Mason Conte a fantastic dribbler, was practicing his 3-pointers.

“Sometimes he takes threes from half-court to the foul line. He’ll make them and he might not make them, but that’s what he wants to do,” Coach Fullen said adding, “He used to throw up line drives. I’ve been teaching him to put an arc on it. And he’s been making them. These kids want to learn. I make sure that everybody gets in the game and all the athletes score.”

“Caiden Mortensen and Joe Pedula are our two fastest players,” he said. “They dribble well, but they were just throwing the ball up at the basket. So we taught them to go in for layups, use the backboard and hit the box. These kids know that I love them and care about them. It’s the most important thing.”

Charlotte Mowery and Susan Sylvia are also athletes that play for the team. Partners are Desmond Blackbeard, Lylah Vargas, Maci Catalano-Shallcross, Evan Garies, Adam Garies, Mike Scolaro, Harmony Sylvia and Mylie Cobb.

Last season Coach Fullen was named a Cox Communications outstanding coach. He was nominated by the parents.

“I’ve had some great teams and some not so great teams,” he said. “I see kids that I have coached 6 or 7 years ago. I get hugs. You got to love it.”

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.