Derby grad hopes hoops clash brings Valley together

SHELTON — Ronté Byrd has long dreamed of holding an event that would bring the Valley together - and he is using his love of basketball to make that happen.

Byrd, a 2011 graduate of Derby High School who once graced its basketball courts as a player, has put together the CBT Valley Alumni Basketball Tournament - a hoops battle featuring teams from Shelton, Seymour, Derby and Ansonia in an event he hopes will become an annual tradition. Byrd is the owner and founder of Coach Byrd Training LLC (CBT) and the freshman boys basketball coach at Amity High School.

"An event that brings the Valley together as a whole has always been an aspiration of mine,” said Byrd. “But I was very big on timing. I felt like this was a perfect time, especially after the pandemic. It made me realize don’t take anything for granted and to do everything you want in life.”

The tournament will be Saturday at Derby Middle School, 73 Chatfield St., with a rain date of July 4. The event, which will feature a DJ, raffles and refreshments, begins at noon, with game one, Seymour vs. Shelton, tipping off at 12:30 p.m.

That will be followed by Derby vs. Ansonia at 1:45 p.m., a consolation game at 3 p.m. and the championship at 4:20 p.m. The event will conclude with a dunk contest at 5:20 p.m.

“The winners will receive the CBT trophy, gold medals and, of course, bragging rights,” Byrd said.

Canned goods and hygiene item donations will be collected at the door and donated to a church in Derby.

“I just felt like this event was needed in the Valley,” Byrd said. “Bridgeport, Waterbury, Hartford all have events like this, but there is nothing like this in the Valley.”

Byrd is known for passing on his basketball skills to youth in the Valley. He started his training business, Coach Byrd Training LLC, in December.

“I’ve been training for a few years but didn’t really get serious until last year,” Byrd said. “I started (teaching) a few kids, but word got around fast, and the business picked up during the pandemic. Kids were home schooled and needed a gym teacher … a basketball trainer.”

He has been hosting private basketball lessons for children aged 4 to 17, and can be found training at local parks or even visiting homes if there is a hoop. Now he has realized his dream of bringing the Valley together - with basketball at the heart.

“I hope for this to be an annual event and for the younger generation to look forward to participating when they graduate high school,” Byrd added.