Tuck comes to Meriden to speak with the girls basketball teams

Tuck comes to Meriden to speak with the girls basketball teams

MERIDEN — Former UConn player and WNBA pro Morgan Tuck made stops at both Platt and Maloney high schools on Friday afternoon to speak to each school’s girls basketball team.

Tuck, 27, retired from the WNBA last March and now works as the Connecticut Sun’s director of franchise development. She spends part of her time speaking at schools.

The 6-foot-2 forward told the Meriden athletes her story on Friday, her highs and lows and everything in between.

The Chicago native won four national championships in her four years at UConn, was drafted by the Sun as the third overall pick of the 2016 WNBA Draft and saw knee problems — Tuck had seven surgeries — prompt a premature retirement.

Tuck played the bulk of her WNBA career with the Sun and her last season with the Seattle Storm.

“Basketball allowed me to experience so many things and helped me become who I am,” Tuck told the Maloney girls Friday. “I was able to play overseas and play in Europe or South America and I got paid for it.

“I had my last knee surgery last November and I feel older than 27, but I got to travel and see things that I would have never been able to see if it wasn’t for basketball,” she added.

Tuck told Meriden student-athletes to enjoy their teammates every year because every year the team is different and people come and go.

“What you have in high school is super special,” Tuck said. “It’s hard to think of it now, but don’t rush getting older and growing up.”

Tuck also told the girls to gamble on themselves. She cited a family member who, for a variety of reasons, said she shouldn’t got to UConn, but Tuck made her own decision.

“I went anyway,” Tuck said. “I went away from home and it’s probably the best decision I’ve made. I took a chance on myself.”

Tuck said she also took a chance playing in China.

“No one spoke English except for one translator and I wasn’t sure if I could do it,” Tuck said. “It was hard, rough times. There were times I was calling my mom crying, but it made me grow up. I would have never have had that opportunity without basketball.”

“Stay true to yourself and your goals,” she added. “You don’t know where you will end up.”

Tuck also told athletes to take care of business in school.

“If I didn’t do well in school, I wouldn’t have this job,” Tuck said. “Doing well in school is your base line and everything else is extra. You need that education. That’s my message to you guys. ”

Tuck fielded questions about conditioning, setting goals, time management, playing for Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma, watching game film, having good body language on and off the court, among other topics.

Tuck spoke about being a role model to others.

“When I came to UConn, I never saw support for women’s basketball like anywhere else,” Tuck said. “People look up to us. You just think of yourself as yourself, but you have to be careful how you present yourself. Because someone is always looking at you from a different lens.”

Tuck spoke about growing up idolizing WNBA great Candace Parker. Tuck said she got her autograph 30 times.

Maloney girls basketball coach John Vieira said it was a great experience having Tuck as guest.

”It’s good for them to hear from somebody that’s been through everything at the highest ranks — you can’t get higher than UConn basketball,” Vieira said. “The fact that she comes here and gives wisdom means a lot.

“To have someone like that in our backyard means everything,” Vieira added. “This is the stuff that it’s going to take to grow the game. We are at a spot right now where kids are starting to appreciate the game. To have Morgan come in and give her experience means a lot. It’s good they hear a different voice than Coach V.”

Maloney junior forward Jaylice Rosario said Tuck had an impact on her.

“It was great to hear her story on how she started from the bottom at UConn to the top,” Rosario said. “I learned to just keep working and keep trying and I could go anywhere.”

Tuck said she’s enjoyed speaking to high school students and telling her story.

“It takes me back. When I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to get to college, but now I would go back to high school in a second,” Tuck said. “When you are young, it’s hard to see the value when someone older comes back to talk to you, but even if they get one little piece out of today it may open a thought that they didn’t have before. It’s always a good opportunity to speak with young kids.”

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