Connor Laverty was a standout basketball player at Ocean City High School. (Photos courtesy of Victoria McHugh)


Connor Laverty was known to many as a star basketball player at Ocean City High School and Widener University, but his impact in the community was felt well beyond athletics.

“Connor was a young man who radiated positivity, humility, charisma, and persistence in whatever he did,” his girlfriend, Victoria McHugh, wrote about him in a loving tribute.

Sadly, Connor died in January at only 25 years old after a six-month battle with lymphoma and a rare condition called HLH, an autoimmune disease resulting in malignant inflammation and multi-organ failure.

Now, Bishop McHugh Regional Catholic School is helping to keep his memory alive by renaming its Spirit Award, presented each year to one boy and one girl in eighth grade, the “Connor James Laverty Spirit Award.” The awards ceremony was held during a sports banquet at the Dennis Township school Tuesday.

“He was the All-American kid,” Crissy Donohue, athletic director at Bishop McHugh, said of Connor.

According to his obituary, Connor’s journey began at Bishop McHugh, “where his foundation of faith, love and knowledge was laid.” He loved playing sports, especially basketball, baseball, football and soccer, before graduating from Bishop McHugh in 2012.

Connor Laverty and his classmates at Bishop McHugh.

Lori Larkin, a retired teacher and former athletic director at Bishop McHugh, fondly remembered Connor and reached out to Donohue to suggest that the school should do something to honor his memory.

Donohue then came up with the idea of renaming the school’s Spirit Award the “Connor James Laverty Spirit Award.” The inscription on the award notes that it recognizes student-athletes “for consistently exhibiting school spirit, sportsmanship, and Christian values both on and off the court, the field, and the classroom.”

After Bishop McHugh, Connor attended Ocean City High School and became a star basketball player and 1,000-point scorer.

Despite scoring 1,000 points, he proudly said that his most memorable accomplishment in high school was getting to play as a freshman with his older brother, Ryan, who was a senior at the time.

It was also at Ocean City High School that his met his “special person,” Victoria McHugh, and they began a relationship that would last the rest of his life, his obituary said.

“Connor could talk to anyone and made friends easily. He loved his family and was very protective of both his older brother Ryan and younger sister Brenna. He loved and cherished his high school sweetheart and soulmate, Victoria McHugh,” according to his obituary.

“He loved God, and his faith continued to grow over time. Connor was a natural leader and his positivity and resilience were just two of his best qualities. He made everyone around him better. He taught us all how to live with grace, patience, perseverance, and gratitude,” the obituary continued.

Connor, who lived in Seaville, is also survived by his parents, Tim and Trish Laverty. Tim Laverty is a retired Ocean City firefighter, while Trish is a team member with the Ocean City Municipal Court.

“The Lavertys raised a son who was universally admired and respected by his peers, teachers and coaches,” Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian said in a statement after Connor’s death.

Connor Laverty also starred in basketball at Widener University.

After high school, Connor moved on to Widener University, where he continued to excel in basketball, again becoming a 1,000-point scorer. Among his awards at Widener, he was named the university’s Male Athlete of the Year as a senior. He graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in history.

Following his playing career, Connor served as an assistant basketball coach at Widener under his former head coach, Chris Carideo, while pursuing his dream of eventually becoming a college head basketball coach.

In 2022, Connor became a graduate assistant basketball coach at Seton Hill University outside of Pittsburgh. At the same time, he was working towards earning his MBA.

Following his death, his family and McHugh have made plans to start the Connor Laverty Memorial Foundation to honor his life and give back locally. The foundation will support the community by awarding scholarships to students who exhibit Connor’s character. It will also further lymphoma and HLH research.

“God blessed each of us on the board of the foundation by giving us the time we had with Connor. It would only be right to bless others in the ways that we can by raising funds in Connor’s name,” McHugh wrote in her tribute.

The foundation is planning its first fundraiser for early August. Although more details are to follow, the fundraiser would be a 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Ocean City.

For now, the foundation is raising funds via Venmo@CLavMemorialFund, as well as checks made payable to the “Connor Laverty Memorial Foundation Inc.” mailed to 7 Laurel Ridge Road, Ocean View, N.J., 08230.

Connor Laverty served as an assistant basketball coach at Widener University.