Matt Carroll is a local high school basketball star. He is an all-time Notre Dame basketball great. He is a 10-year NBA veteran; something he accomplished with hard work and determination despite not being drafted.
But above all the athletic achievements and accolades, Matt Carroll is a father, husband, son, brother, mentor, and friend first. That side of Carroll was showcased at a dinner where he was honored by the Jersey Shore Warriors AAU program Sunday night.
The dinner, which hosted a little over 130 people at the Great American Pub in Conshohocken, featured speakers from multiple walks of Carroll’s basketball life with the Warriors and Notre Dame. Matt himself was the keynote speaker, where he spoke eloquently for about 10 minutes and emphasized the importance of building relationships.
“If you have a dream and you start working toward it, great things are going to happen regardless,” Carroll said. “It’s the relationships you build with people while playing that you really hold on to forever.”
One of the relationships Carroll has built through the years is with Tony Sagona, who serves as a Warriors coach and director.
“I thought it was a great turnout,” Sagona said. “It’s a testament to what people think of him and the program, which he has been a big part of.
We go on these trips and everybody has their names on the uniform of the person that’s sponsoring…Matty never wants that. We still don’t have his name on the uniforms. He never ever wanted anything in return other than to do the right thing by the kids. We would have never had this thing if it was anybody different.”
With the program struggling financially, Carroll stepped up and donated $150,000 to the Warriors in 2007. They are still running strong today, sending players like Steven Vasturia (Notre Dame), Darrun Hilliard (Villanova/Detroit Pistons), and Dalton Pepper (West Virginia/Temple) to their college of choice.
“This is not normal…there is something really special you have here,” Carroll said when addressing the current Warriors. “When you guys mention you look up to me, someone is always looking up to you too.”
In addition to donating money in support of the program, the man who won Pennsylvania’s “Mr. Basketball” award twice while playing for Hatboro-Horsham has also donated his time to a new generation of Jersey Shore Warriors as a mentor. One of those players is recent Colgate grad Matt McMullan, who spoke Sunday night.
“(Carroll) has been nothing but positive and a great role model for me at a young age,” McMullan said. “If there’s anyone who can represent this program, there is no one better than Matt. He’s the ultimate class act.”
Carroll’s roommate at Notre Dame, Jimmy Dillon, was tasked with telling Matt’s basketball story through the years. Dillon, a Holy Ghost Prep alum, knew the type of person his roommate would become even as a freshman.
“Matt, is, has, and always will be a family man,” Dillon said.
A family man who puts relationships he’s built through the years first; with just a little bit of basketball success mixed in along the way. Carroll has built a pretty good model to earn a well-deserved honor.