Coach Gladstone “Moon” McPhee’s passion for basketball is common knowledge in this country and beyond, throughout the Caribbean region and within the sport’s different fraternities in North America.
His devotion to the development of female basketball is not as widely known, but has always been equally demonstrated from the 1960s to the present. Indeed, the diminutive but mighty contributor to nation building through sports has long been a proponent of the advancement of the fairer sex in the sport he has dedicated the majority of his 71 years to.
During the mid 2000s when Mynez Cargill and her close associates pushed the New Providence Women’s Basketball Association onto the local scene, Coach McPhee was one of her biggest supporters.
Years earlier, one of his daughters, Yolett, developed a deep love for basketball. Her dad religiously took her to a nearby park and taught her the basics and then upped her skill level to the point whereby she qualified for a scholarship. She is now the Head Coach at Jacksonville University.
Seventeen years ago, he saw the need for women’s basketball to get a higher profile. He started the HOYTES Geneva Rutherford Women’s Basketball Tournament. Some five years later, a skinny, uncoordinated little girl from the west section of Grand Bahama was registered in his HOYTES camp.
Jonquel Jones is now the rage of Asia, as the Most Valuable Player in the Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL) and headed into her second year in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) with very high expectations. The case could well be made that Coach McPhee is more synonymous with basketball in The Bahamas than any other, but that would be arguable. However his incredible female basketball outreach cannot be challenged.
It is from this backdrop that he visited my office recently on a particular mission. We interact often, quite regularly in fact, socially and in the interest of sports development in Grand Bahama and The Bahamas. On that certain day though he was steamed and wanted to make a declaration.
“We have to do much more for women’s basketball. In the National Tournament, the senior girls were upstaged by the senior boys, and I understand that. We just need to give the girls their very own forum, I mean, in a big national way,” he said
Then, Coach Moon took a personal approach.
“You know, I have been doing a women’s s tournament for 17 years and I think the thing to do is just to seek assistance to make it as big as it can get, catering to school girls’ teams from all over the country,” said a determined Coach McPhee.
It’s an ambitious undertaking, even though the foundation has been set for such an upscale national event. In the past, teams from Abaco, Eleuthera and Harbor Island have competed against squads from Grand Bahama and New Providence in the HOYTES Geneva Rutherford classic.
Now, Coach McPhee and his marketing group are in search of a major title sponsor that would cover the cost of facilitating the participation of teams from several other islands along with those aforementioned.
“We have to give our young girls throughout the country more options as they grow into women,” said a passionate Coach McPhee.
The Coach gets full support from me for such a venture. Although women of The Bahamas have gone to heights far beyond all expectations, I am convinced that this nation has not come close to maximizing the true potential of our fairer sex.
What Coach McPhee advocates will result in more outstanding disciples of the game of basketball like Mynez, Yolett and Jonquel, but also high academic achievers who would be well positioned to give this country proper overall leadership down the road.
Look for the 18th version of the HOYTES Geneva Rutherford Women’s Basketball Tournament to be above the rim.
Best wishes Coach Moon!
• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp 727-6363
Published Thursday, March, 16, 2017