Tuesday, March 11, 2014

More than Just Basketball

by Monyae Williamson

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”

Many glean different meanings from the famous Albert Einstein quote, but they all circle around the same understanding. For Yolett McPhee-McCuin, the head coach of Jacksonville University’s team, she found the quote to mean the only way to find complete happiness in life is by helping and serving others.

The product of educators, service and the strong sense of community was ingrained in Coach McPhee-McCuin at a young age. Whether it was opening their home as a foster family or providing shelter to those new to the island and without a place to stay, the McPhees never hesitated to help anyone in need.

As a child, McPhee-McCuin remembers heading to basketball practice in the wee hours of the morning with her father, Gladstone “Moon” McPhee. Mr. McPhee, the winningest coach in Bahamian history, founded Helping Our Youth through Education and Sports (HOYTES) to provide sporting opportunity to children as well as to assist them in developing athletically and academically.

His initiative has helped hundreds of kids reach their goals both on and off of the court. Founded in 1986, HOYTES has aided in countless children receiving scholarships with a fair share of its students recruited to play collegiate basketball overseas. Coach McPhee-McCuin is also a graduate of the program and credits her success to her father’s work.

This season marks McPhee-McCuin’s first as a head coach and she has embodied her parents’ act of giving with monthly community service projects with the Dolphins.

“Community service is important to me because it gives our young ladies an opportunity to give back to others,” said McPhee-McCuin. “We try to focus on a wide range of service projects so that our young ladies are exposed to different people in the community. I think that any time you can put your priorities aside and focus on others, it makes you not only appreciate your circumstances but also encourages you to help others in the future.”

Her first effort with JU in July included a visit to the Hubbard House, a domestic violence center serving Duval and Baker counties.The Fins have also led a pep rally for reading at a local elementary school, worked in conjunction with the World Relief Center to host a “Fall Festival” for Burmese refugee children living in Jacksonville and visited the Potter’s House Christian Church to assist with their annual Thanksgiving Food Drive.

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