By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
COACH Yolett McPhee-McCuin continues to use her platform as the head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels Women’s Basketball programme to lobby for social justice in her adopted home state of Mississippi.
McPhee-McCuin was one of several coaches and officials from the Mississippi’s public universities to visit the state legislature and voice their support to making changes to the state flag.
The group that represented Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alcorn State, Delta State, Jackson State, Mississippi University for Women, Mississippi Valley State and Southern Mississippi seek to remove the confederate flag from the Mississippi state flag.
“When my daughters ask me where I was June 25, 2020, I want to be able to look them in the eyes and tell them about this moment,” she tweeted with a photo of the group of coaches. “I’d like to thank our university leaders for supporting me and the rest of my colleagues during this time. We stand United.”
There has been a growing sentiment from players, coaches and NCAA officials to remove images of the confederate flag from campuses and events.
Last week, the NCAA officially banned the state from hosting any NCAA championship games until the state flag is changed. It was an expansion of the organisation’s “confederate flag policy.” Mississippi is currently the only state to have the confederate flag as apart of its state flag.
Also, in the SEC, which includes both Ole Miss and Mississippi State, conference commissioner Greg Sankey said his organisation could also place a postseason ban on the state for use of the current flag.
“Our students deserve an opportunity to learn and compete in environments that are inclusive and welcoming to all,” he said. “In the event there is no change, there will be consideration of precluding Southeastern Conference championship events from being conducted in the state of Mississippi until the state flag is changed.”
Last month on the Ole Miss campus, McPhee-McCuin was one of several leaders of Rebels student athletics to lead a Unity Walk on the Oxford, Mississippi campus as protests against police brutality continued across the globe.
The Grand Bahama native is the school’s first black female head women’s basketball coach. Her programme joined athletic administrators, coaches and student athletes from various sports.
It was a show of solidarity for Ole Miss athletics as their unity walk coincided with protests across the globe in the wake of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and most recently George Floyd.
“As athletes and coaches we know how important it is to be believed in. Whether we are cheered on by a sold out stadium or looked up to by one small child-the belief of others in us, their support of us, and their love for us makes a huge difference in the scoreboards that push us to be great. We are here today, realising that a handful of minds, and only a little more than a handful of our time cannot just be a photo op,” McPhee-McCuin.
“We, black and white are the beneficiaries of the struggle for black freedom - a struggle born generations ago by black people who loved a nation that long considered them at best, second class citizens.
“And whether through generations of tilling the soil of this state, or through mid 20th century boycotts, sit-ins, or voter registration, generations of black Mississippians sacrificed their own freedoms not just for Freedom Summer, but for the freedoms we enjoy when as athletes and coaches, we run onto the gridiron in the fall, when we hit the hardwood in the spring, and when we blaze the track in the summer too.”
In her two years at the helm leading the Rebels, McPhee-McCuin has undertaken a rebuilding project.
At 16-45, Rebels have gone up against 13 nationally ranked squads, 12 of which have come in SEC play.
Headed into next season, the Rebels will have the No.1 recruiting class in the SEC and No.13 class in the nation for the 2020-2021 campaign.