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Friday, September 29, 2023


Penders to be inducted into hall of fame

A little more than three years ago, former UH forward Ramon Dyer played his final game in a Cougar uniform. It was a cold, wet night that Monday in Springfield, Miss., and after suffering a 1-point loss to Missouri State in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament. Dyer and the Cougars probably thought the weather fitting.

Despite the circumstances, Dyer, a senior who started his last collegiate game that night, found a silver lining.

"I never thought (we would be here)," Dyer said. "Coach (Tom) Penders changed the program, and he made me into a better ball player. I love him for that. He’s my best coach."

Those words were sincere. Dyer was one of the Cougars who had suffered through two consecutive seasons of less than 10 wins before Penders arrived at UH in 2004.

Penders is a coach who left impressions like that at various programs, impacting players and other coaches along the way – even during his first gig as a high school coach. That is why he will be one of six inductees given a place in the Fairfield County (Conn.) Sports Hall of Fame this year.

Penders will be inducted into the J. Walter Kennedy Community Service wing of the hall of fame, which is the area designated for coaches who have had a positive impact on players as well as posted impressive records.

"When they said community service, it meant a lot to me because it wasn’t just the record that I had," Penders said. "The way the (Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame) put it was it wasn’t just the record I had when I was a coach. It was about the young people I impacted when I was a high school coach in Connecticut."

Penders coached at Bullard-Havens Technical high school as his first job in the business and posted a record of 14-6 with a team that had gone 4-14 the year before. He then moved on to Bridgeport Central High School in 1969. Although the team went 7-13 the year before, Penders led his teams to a record of 43-3 in a span of two seasons.

After going 20-1 in his second season at Bridgeport Central High, Penders was named the New York Daily News Coach of the Year.

"To be recognized as a coach is extra special because I started my coaching career there," Penders said. "I was a high school coach for three years at Fairfield County in the City of Bridgeport. That’s where I was born."

Penders, who is one of 28 Division 1 coaches in collegiate history to have more than 600 wins, said it was nice for this to happen to him before he decided to call it quits, but he has a lot more coaching to do before he decides to hang up the whistle.

"It’s a surprise. It’s an area and it’s a state where its kind of like football is down here," Penders said. "It’s nice that they honor former athletes and coaches where I come from. I don’t know if I deserve it. It’s nice, but I still feel like I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m still going and I’m glad they don’t wait until you retire."

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