The venerable Coach Gladstone “Moon” McPhee continues to be a great advocate for female basketball.
Almost two decades ago, through his HOYTES (Helping Our Youth Through Education and Sports) Geneva Rutherford Female Basketball Invitational, Coach McPhee began a crusade to provide the fairer sex aspirants of the game, a higher profile.
“I noticed then, and it is still very much the case today, that the growth of female basketball has been stunted, simply because, the general attitude is to show preference for the male basketball players. More focus is placed on them (males) in school, league and recreation play. It has been not a balance that I favor and this is why I have sought to level the playing field or to come close to that stage for the ladies.
“I began this tournament to ensure that at the very least, there would be one tournament each year that highlights the young girls and older ladies,” said the stalwart sports mentor, earlier this week.
He is preparing for this year’s event, scheduled February 20-23 at St. George’s Gymnasium in Freeport, Grand Bahama. Invitations have already gone out to schools in New Providence, Grand Bahama, and some of the other Family Islands, such as Abaco, Eleuthera, Bimini and Andros.
Coach’s McPhee’s HOYTES Program has been the major plank for private development of female basketball. Through HOYTES, he has fostered many scholarship opportunities for young Bahamian females. Two of his prized pupils, have gone all the way to the top. I refer to his daughter Yolett McPhee-McCuin and Jonquel Jones.
The former is the first female to head the University of. Mississippi’s Women’s Basketball Program. Coach Yo recently won her 100th game in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1, with Jacksonville University for six years, and upon joining Mississippi in 2018.
Jones, of course, is the global basketball star. She has been an All-Star in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA); Jones sits as the single season-rebound record holder(403); she captivated Asian basketball for two seasons (South Korea and China); and the Grand Bahama native is considered one of the bright young talents expected to lead the WNBA for years to come.
Coach Yo and Jones are the collective message that the ‘Moon Man” has consistently sent out while projecting female basketball.
“I keep telling people that there is just as much female talent in basketball as with the males. Basketball, the male version, yes, gets more attention. But, why can’t people see that the females provide excitement as well? I wish to keep this tournament alive to give the females a platform to show their talents, without their skills being compared to the males.
“I challenge the Bahamas Basketball Federation, and the schools to show more interest in the ladies who play basketball. I invite them to focus more on events designed for the ladies, such as our February tournament,” said Coach McPhee.
Once again, the Tournament Director is Sharon “The General” Storr. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sharon.email@example.com.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org or on WhatsApp at 727-6363).