When Thomas Capuano was a kid, his passion for basketball was quite obvious to his mom, Janet.
“Anything you’re worried about. Any stress in your life, it’s just gone,” Thomas said when asked about how basketball makes him feel. “You just have to focus on one goal and you use your teammates to achieve that.”
He was always in the gym. He’d attend every practice he had to go to and then to any other practice other teams held. Any opportunity he had to be around the game, he’d take it, even if it was sitting in on other teams’ practices. There was no limit and he just wanted to do it. All of it, Janet recalled.
“Shows his determination at such a young age,” Capuano’s mom said in an email. He’s seen playing with his Amateur Athletic Union first team en route to winning the third grade D2 Nationals. (Photo courtesy of Janet Capuano.)
“It was that discipline that is a big part to getting to where he is today,” she said.
“No one has seen Tom play more than I have since the third grade,” Capuano’s mom added. “I understand it’s biased coming from his mom but I’ve always known what he’s capable of and believed in him 1,000 percent that he could play at [the Division I] level and succeed at that level. He has always had to prove himself, he was the underdog a lot of the way, just in terms of his height — [ 5 feet 11 inches].”
From Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) through college, almost everyone who knows Capuano well describes him as tough; a grinder; determined; a hard-worker; hard-nosed; blue-collar. The list can go on.
If someone told him he had to work on his strength, for example, he’d do push-ups and sit-ups before bed without fail. And if he forgot to do them one night, he would get up when he remembered. When he has a goal he goes for it, his mom remembered.
“He’s the toughest mentally, physically that I’ve ever had as a coach,” Chris Ward, Capuano’s former AAU Spartans head coach, said, “and I’ve been coaching for 28 years. He’s got a special quality, charisma.”