For Tomora Young, assistant director of the Red Bank Parks & Recreation department, the remarkable run of the Rutgers women’s basketball team in the season that wrapped up six weeks ago had a powerful personal dimension to it.
Not only is she a former Scarlet Knights starter; she’d arrived on the New Brunswick hardwood in 1995, at the same time as Coach Vivian Stringer. A 5-foot-10 guard, Young helped the Scarlet Knights earn back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths, including a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in 1998 and the Elite Eight in 1999.
The team’s achievements in those years, Young believes, helped lay the groundwork for its greatest-yet success: this year’s trip to the NCAA championship game, which the Lady Knights lost, 59-46, to Tennessee.
It was against that backdrop that Young collected the latest of many honors bestowed on her for her achievements as a student athlete. On April 29, at a dinner to recognize this year’s team and its first-ever Big East championship, she was inducted into the Rutgers Basketball Hall of Fame.
“It’s an honor for this to happen this year, with all the hard work this team put in,” Young told redbankgreen when we ran into her last week Friday at the Red Bank Middle School career day.
“This was so special because I actually got to get up and thank Coach Stringer and (associate coach Jolette) Law, as well as to speak to all the girls and let them know we’re supporting them one-hundred percent,” she said.
Young still holds the Scarlet Knights team record for three-point field goals made in a single season with 71, and is second for total three-pointers in her career, with 180.
Born in Long Branch and raised in Red Bank, Young picked up her love of hoops watching her brothers and cousins play in pick-up games. “Then I started liking (Michael) Jordan, and it kind of went from there,” she said. She was a star player at Red Bank Regional High.
Between Rutgers and her current job, Young played pro ball in Finland and the United States with the Atlanta Justice of the now-defunct National Women’s Basketball League before hanging up her jersey.
Now 30 years old, says she experienced no letdown from the thrills of big-time women’s athletics. “When I stopped playing basketball, I decided it was way more important for me to give back to the community and help someone else,” she said. She uses her experience to show kids what’s possible, she said.
And while she’s reluctant to rank this latest honor as the pinnacle of playing career, it’s one she cherishes, she said.
“This was one of the greatest accomplishments that I’ve had due to the fact that I’ve stayed in people’s hearts and they actually remembered me as someone worthy of being in the Hall of Fame,” she said.