‘Coach Yo’ experiences glory on home soil

A SWEET HOMECOMING: Grand Bahama native Yolett "Coach Yo" McPhee-McCuin and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Rebels visited the Sports Walk of Fame during their trip for the Battle 4 Atlantis women's tournament

A SWEET HOMECOMING: Grand Bahama native Yolett "Coach Yo" McPhee-McCuin and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Rebels visited the Sports Walk of Fame during their trip for the Battle 4 Atlantis women's tournament


Tribune Sports Reporter


The sounds of sweet Junkanoo music playing filled the Imperial Arena, Paradise Island, on Monday as the University of Mississippi Ole Miss Rebels were crowned the third Bad Boy Mowers women’s champions.

The joyous moment was an historic one for the team, winning their first title in the tourney, but a poetic one for their head coach Grand Bahamian Yolett “Coach Yo” McPhee-McCuin who was able to become the first Bahamian coach to win the women’s tournament on her home soil.

It was indeed a sweet homecoming for Coach Yo and over the course of the

three-day event she talked to reporters about its cultural impact, the Bahamian support and, most importantly, what it means for her as a fellow woman in sports.

“Anytime I get to be in a leadership role it means a lot not only for my players but for my two daughters who get to watch and see me lead. My team gets to see it too, even the males on my staff are learning to be okay with women in leadership,” the head coach said.

The Grand Bahama native currently leads the women’s basketball programme for the Ole Miss Rebels. She has seen steady improvements with the Southeastern Conference’s (SEC) Lady Rebels since being hired in 2018. Under her leadership, the women’s team earned a 25-9 win/loss record last season accompanied with an 11-5 record in the SEC. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) D1 team made it to their first Sweet 16 since 2007 last season with Coach Yo at the helm.

Most recently, she coached the Lady Rebels to a 60-49 championship win over the Michigan Wolverines in her return home.

With ample experience as a leader, she is hopeful that her accomplishments provide an inspiration to other women.

“I know in The Bahamas that is something that I am passionate about. Women should have a chance to be in leadership as well, anytime I get to say that, I do. I came down and spoke at the Jubilee women’s luncheon and that’s what I talked about, it’s our time. Hopefully, my presence alone provides an inspiration for other women in their fields to continue to stand tall and lead from the front,” Coach Yo said.

She has been responsible for turning “history” into “her story” over the years.

Last year, McPhee- McCuin joined the senior men’s national basketball team coaching staff as an assistant alongside Golden State Warriors assistant coach Chris DeMarco.

She became the first woman to ever coach the respective team.

The former national team coach also led the charge for the women’s national basketball team from 2014- 2017. With the decorated head coach at the forefront, The Bahamas earned the Caribbean Basketball Confederation (CBC) women’s championship in 2015 as the best national team in the Caribbean.

The top women’s coach is well-versed in her field and wants to see The Bahamas women’s national team make a comeback.

“I believe the women’s national team could have a resurgence as well. I just think we have to be intentional about getting those young women to come back and maybe convincing Jonquel to come back and play for the 242,” she said.

Not only is Coach Yo ready to see a resurgence of the women’s national team but she also wants to take the reins herself if given the opportunity to coach again.

“Absolutely. If invited for sure, I am passionate about The Bahamas and I believe that we can do things special. I think we have enough, you have seen when the commitment happened from the men what they were able to do. I think we can do the same thing on the women’s side,” she told reporters.

The Grand Bahamian is hoping to see more emphasis placed on development at the elementary and high school levels and gave a special shoutout to Lady Rebels’ rookie Rhema Collins, hailing from Nassau.

“I would love to see more emphasis on the grassroots level, the high school and elementary level because that is where it starts. I really believe there is a lot of untapped talent.

“Rhema Collins, she is from Nassau and she will be a pro. There is tons of untapped potential,” she said.

Tournament experience

With regards to the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis women’s tournament, the Ole Miss Rebels enjoyed themselves and earning the championship hardware was just the cherry on top.

On their journey, they took down the Howard University Bison and the University of Arizona Wildcats in back-to-back games over a three-game stretch.

According to Coach Yo, the experience was second to none.

“Battle 4 Atlantis has been a phenomenal tournament from the competition, hospitality, of course the beautiful Atlantis and security, everything was elite. We came down and really had a phenomenal experience, not just saying that because we won but we have truly enjoyed our time here,” she said.

Throughout the tournament, the Lady Rebels paid homage to McPhee- McCuin’s hometown culture, wearing clothing from Bahari instead of their usual Nike gear, in the three games played.

Coach Yo was also impressed with the support from Bahamians as many secondary school students filled the stands at the Imperial Arena on Monday. She is hopeful that the youth will be inspired from the experience.

“You cannot be what you cannot see, representation matters no matter what, nationality matters. For me to come home and be able to do this, hopefully it provides inspiration to the youth. I did it old school, I graduated from high school in the Bahamas. I am born and raised in the 242 so for me to be able to go out and live the American dream, play college basketball and have an opportunity to do what I am doing, I hope it provides inspiration for the Bahamian people,” she said.

With the curtains now closed on the third Battle 4 Atlantis women’s tournament, the Ole Miss Rebels return to Oxford, Mississippi, to play the Little Rock Trojans at the Pavilion at 4pm on Saturday.


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