Tributes to basketball icon Arthur 'Gully' Rolle


Sports Reporter


Condolences continue to pour in for one of the iconic figures in Bahamian basketball whose impact continues to resonate after his passing.

Arthur “Gully” Rolle, 63, died September 25th, 2012 in Miami, Florida due in part to heart failure following a major surgery.

A memorial service is scheduled for Thursday, October 11, 2012, at 7pm at Mount Moriah Baptist Church, Farrington Road. 

The funeral service is scheduled for Saturday, October 13, at 11am. 

The former coach of many iconic Beck’s Cougars teams of the 1960s and 70s, he was also one of the most successful coaches the country has seen at the national level.

Rolle began as a player for the Cougars, but quickly made the shift to the world of coaching as Fred Smith pursued a career in professional baseball.

Coaching legendary players like Peter Gilcud and Peter Brown, Rolle’s Cougars became the only club in the Bahamas to ever win the Triple Crown of local basketball which included the New Providence Championships, the National Championships and the Independence Tournament in the same year.

On the national team level he achieved FIBA’s highest coaches certification at grade one, along with archival and fellow coach Martin Lundy who coached the Kentucky Colonels.

Rolle was the Head Coach of two CARICOM basketball championship teams and and assistant on may others including the Centro Basquet, the Central American and Caribbean regional championships in Mexico (1977); the Central American and Caribbean Games in Medellin, Colombia (1978) and the AAU South Regionals in Del Ray Beach, Florida (1979).

Lundy, the former Director of Sports, said Rolle was one of the most influential names in the sport at a time considered the golden era of Bahamian basketball.

“For in spite of our epic confrontations in the basketball arena, we shared a personal bond and intimate friendship founded on mutual admiration and respect which collectively served to confuse the minds of many supporters of my Colonels and his Cougars,” he said, “Foremost memories though are reserved for the twenty-two years of epic battles fought on home soil between the Beck’s Cougars and the Kentucky Colonels beginning in 1968, lasting throughout the 1970s & 1980s and briefly revived in 2007 to honour the late sports reporter, Phil Smith. It is common knowledge that local basketball was at its highest standard in that prior era with regular game attendance by even the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Sir Lynden Pindling. “

Lundy added that Rolle was one of the most underrated coaches by the current generation.

“Regrettably, the name of Arthur Adolphus “Gully” Rolle does not seem to resonate as much as it should among today’s young ballers, coaches or sports commentators despite his vast contribution to national development through basketball,” he said,  “Gladstone ‘Moon’ McPhee is the only Bahamian coach with better international results, and these with Gully as his assistant. He was a bright basketball mind and our clubs conducted rehearsals, sometimes five times per week, inclusive of conditioning and class room sessions beginning in the summer. Such levels of preparation created platforms for achieving excellence.”

Stancel Ferguson, a former member of the Cougars, said Rolle will be remembered for giving selflessly to the game of basketball and ensuring its development in the Bahamas.

“He was one of the key figures at a time when basketball was at its peak in the Bahamas. He had the prestigious honor of winning the triple crown, and truly one of our greats,” he said, “He was someone who took his job seriously, everything from game planning, to transporting players, to hosting federation meetings, whatever was necessary. Anyone who played under him became a better player, a competitor on the basketball court, and a better person.”

Sharon Storr, a former member of the Colonels, credited Rolle with being an innovator on the floor.

“Gully was from the old school. The preparation he put into the teams was spectacular and that’s what made the rivalry so intense in those days. He believed in creating players from scratch, one of those hard working coaches that didn’t recruit, but created great players. That made him one of the winningest coaches, not just in the Bahamas, but in the region as the most successful coach in CARICOM history,” he said, “He was an innovator as well, during a time when everyone played zone defenses and he was one of the only coaches to implement and popularize a pressing defense, and on that end of the floor it was one of his trademarks.”

Rolle was nationally recognized for his efforts when he was inducted into the National Sports Hall of Fame.


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