By Brent Stubbs
Senior Sports Reporter
FREEPORT - For more than three decades, Gladstone ‘Moon’ McPhee has helped to impact the lives of more student athletes than he can count through HOYTES.
Helping Our Youth Through Education and Sports - HOYTES - is a programme that was started jointly by McPhee, Doug Collins, Charles ‘Chuck’ Mackey and the late Watewell Rigby 35 years ago.
Today, McPhee is almost single-handedly leading the charge in keeping the programme going, albeit, with a lot more events in Grand Bahama where he is based.
“There are a lot of needs for young people to have somebody to lead them in the right direction in sports and to discipline them,” McPhee said.
“The good thing is that I had some good coaches like Lou Adderley, Vince Ferguson, Homer Winder and in baseball, Charlie Williams and Benny Adderley as well as Roderick Simms, my first physical education teacher, was my idol.”
As a result of what these men and others imparted into his life, McPhee said he was able to carry out his “God-given” calling to inspire and motivate young people. “I just can’t give it up,” McPhee said.
Over the weekend at the St George’s Gymnasium, McPhee hosted the 14th Annual HOYTES Labour Day Basketball Classic.
The event attracted teams from Grand Bahama, New Providence and Grand Cay.
“It’s tiresome, but there’s a need there, so if you have the calling, all you have to do is use it,” McPhee said. “I believe I had the calling to stay with young people, so I will continue to do so.”
While some of the pioneers of HOYTES are no longer in the spotlight, McPhee said he’s grateful that some of the players whom he has groomed are coming back and giving their time and energy as coaches.
Additionally, McPhee also stages the Geneva Rutherford High School Tournament for girls over the mid-term break and there is the summer camp that is staged in Grand Bahama and Abaco.
A former high school coach, McPhee set the pace as the first school out of New Providence to win the prestigious Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic for senior boys basketball teams and the first to win more than one with the Catholic High School Crusaders.
While coaching his high school team, McPhee was also a coach in the Grand Bahama Basketball Association’s junior programme where he coached so many more players.
That eventually led to him coaching at the senior division. That helped the Bahamas Basketball Federation to promote McPhee as the head coach of the men’s national basketball team.
At the national level, McPhee served in that capacity for more than ten years, taking the Bahamas to the Tournament of Americas, the last opportunity for teams to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Neville ‘Manny’ Adderley, Glenroy ‘Gondo’ Ferguson, Vincent ‘Six’ Knowles and Ricardo Pierre, just to name a few. The team, according to McPhee, was loaded with shooters.
While he can take solace in the fact that he “was right there knocking on the door” before they missed qualifying in the Tournament of Americas, McPhee said the game is a “poor condition” now and will need a lot of help to get back to the glory days.
“The problem is right here,” he pointed out to the youngsters playing in the Labour Day Tournament from the 9-10 age group to 15-16 and inclusive of the girls.
“If you don’t have time for them, how the hell you want our senior men’s team to flourish? Once you start with them, they have pride in the country and when they go away and someone else teaching them, they are looking forward to money. That’s the difference today.”
Having helped to nature some of the majority of players who excelled to the national team level and now into the professional ranks through Europe and the United States, McPhee said there would not have been any significant changes if he had to do it all over again.
“I just wished that I would have been able to get at least two big men, who would have been loyal to the Bahamas. Height is one thing, being good is another,” McPhee stated.
“But being loyal to the flag of the Bahamas and being loyal to his family and friends.”
McPhee said it was always had to find a “few good men,” who were willing to risk it all without getting a dime to push the Bahamas forward in the international tournaments.
“You could be a good as you want to be in life,” McPhee said. “But there’s nothing like being able to honour your country and the flag for which it stands.”
Not only have McPhee being able to groom and develop some of the top basketball players in the country, but McPhee is also even more thrilled to see his daughter, Yolett McPhee-McCuin, develop into one of the top collegiate coaches and now the current women’s national team head coach.
“Yolett, from she was eight years old, told my wife and me, ‘mommy and daddy, you’ll don’t have to worry about getting me through college. I will get my scholarship,’” he reflected.
“All I want for my freshman year is a car. Her mother told her no, ‘you can get that in your sophomore year,’ which did get. She did well. We’re proud of her because we know she is a hard worker.
“She is a workaholic, but she’s getting somewhere. So I get joy from watching her now. I am very proud of her.”
McPhee-McCuin, a former point guard who is now a 15-year veteran of the coaching industry, is in her second season with the Rebels in 2019-20 after she was named the ninth head coach in Ole Miss history on April 4, 2018.
Prior to her time at Jacksonville, McPhee-McCuin was an assistant at Clemson from 2011-13, where she was recognized as one of the top assistants in the nation by National Women’s Basketball Insider.
Coach Yo, as she’s affectionately called, has served as the Bahamas’ head coach since 2013 and during that sting, she became the first Bahamian coach to win the Caribbean Basketball Confederation title for women.
Her 5-feet-5 73-year-old father and father-figure to many said it’s achievements such as this that he just can’t stop what he’s doing. He has to keep on going.
“I love it. It’s like a drug to me,” said McPhee, who now operates HOYTES at the Gladstone ‘Moon’ McPhee Park on Sargent Major Road in Grand Bahama.
“If there are people who are interested in helping out HOYTES, just give Moon McPhee a call. We need your help to keep the programme going.”