The revered Coach Gladstone “Moon” McPhee is quickly moving towards his 73rd birthday. The passion is ever strong for passing on his unique basketball knowledge to young boys and girls.
On Majority Rule Day, Thursday past, he was out early on a holiday to mentor to young basketball aspirants at the park named in his honour at Sergeant Major Road in Freeport. He was ailing. A right big toe swollen because of gout, hampered his shuffle as he went through skill patterns with registered campers.
Even in sickness, the stalwart contributor to nation building, especially, through his sports program, was available to the children of parents who have often demonstrated an ungrateful attitude. Many of them have been bringing their children to Coach Moon’s camp even though they pay little attention to the registration fees.
On top of that, scores upon scores of those with HOYTES alumnus status, esteemed professionals now, move on with their lives, forgetting, seemingly, the magnificent role HOYTES played for them. They see the coach in passing, or in social settings and hail him, but a very small percentage, through the years, have given back to the program that nurtured them.
It’s presently, a big struggle for Coach Moon to get former HOYTES campers, now adults, and quite able, to come out and assist. As a result, a wonderful sports development program, that also afforded registrants of four decades, wholesome values; educational elevation through scholarships; and in general, an internship towards adulthood; is in danger of phasing out.
Oh, the lion still roars, but the physical mellowing is obvious.
It is indeed shameful that so many have benefited from HOYTES, yet they have not come forward in meaningful numbers to ensure that the legacy continues. Sometimes when the coach and I chat about the dilemma, he shakes his head woefully, still not able to grasp the reality of so few coming to aid the HOYTES program.
“I don’t get it. It’s been such a struggle over the years. They just have not given back. I don’t want anything for me, but they should remember that it was through assistance from sponsors and individual donors that I was able to do what I did for them.
“Many of them are able to buy basketballs, nets, help with the purchase of uniforms and the like. The same items I had to find to outfit and have a learning facility ready for them, that process still needs to be done. Nothing has changed in that regard. The burden of having to solicit just about everything for HOYTES is getting burdensome though. I admit that. The former HOYTES campers could help a lot,” said Coach Moon.
McPhee has not decided as yet to downsize the HOYTES program. His camp is still consistent on Saturdays, and even Thursdays when certain registrants need extra work. HOYTES still produces two competitive events a year, the Geneva Rutherford Female Basketball Tournament and the Labour Day Invitational.
Indeed, he is just as passionate, but the HOYTES workload is becoming tiresome.
The challenge, and appeal therefore go out to HOYTES Nation.
Coach Moon needs you!
ºTo respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org or on WhatsApp at 727-6363.