The Helping Our Youth Through Education and Sports (HOYTES) basketball program launched their 2021-2022 season with high hopes.
The longstanding and impactful outlet for young people throughout the community resumed this past Saturday, September 11 at the Gladstone “Moon” McPhee Park. As HOYTES Founder and namesake of the park, McPhee expressed that he is excited about this year’s run.
McPhee noted that recently, the program had helped one of its female players receive an opportunity to play in the United States. That is now a trend the revered coach wants to continue for those currently enrolled.
“This year we had one of our girls, Odisha Jones, go off to (high) school in Arkansas. That’s what it’s been all about, to try to get these kids a higher education and our expectation is to get the younger campers into the rhythm of how to stay in shape and what it takes to stay in shape.
“Also, to get them to see how it makes them into better players and people. A lot of times younger people and adults think it’s just a game but it’s not just a game. When you have aspirations to go higher it’s not a game and more, it’s all business. We just want to get that mindset into our campers. You get out of it what you put into it.”
McPhee continued saying, “That’s one of our main goals - getting kids off to school. We've had hundreds of kids go off to school; some stayed over there and some came back.
“It takes a lot of phone calls, a lot of networking, it costs me money to travel to get to meet the coaches. It takes a lot.
“Now, with the pandemic, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) are changing the rules where they have players staying back an extra year. So if you keep the whole class back an extra year there is no entry level. It’s important we let the kids know that.
“Most of our kids who graduate this year would have problems. They have to be extremely good at their craft or they’d have to wait. They (coaches) have to believe in you and we have to believe in them (the players).
Nonetheless, with a healthy mix of new and returning campers, McPhee expects for the year to go by smoothly with healthy and safety protocols in place.
McPhee later noted that HOYTES program has a rich history of having current prominent figures come up through the program. While many of the campers may not make it to the professional ranks, he shared that seeing the young men and women grow into productive members of society gives him the urgency to keep pushing.
“It makes me proud and gives me the juice to keep fighting knowing that you may not make into the pros but being in a program like this, they learn what it means to work,” he concluded.