Yolett McPhee McCuin has a long list of impressive accolades in addition to the fact that she is a full-time working mother, has been an African American female coach for over 15 years, and was born in another country. McPhee McCuin is the first African American female to coach at the University of Mississippi. She was born in the Bahamas and has deep appreciation for her country.
“It’s just been a journey,” McPhee McCuin said. “Some ups, some downs. But really thankful for my roots and the Bahamian people are very prideful people. We work very hard.”
McPhee McCuin came to America on a scholarship to play college basketball in 2000 when she became the first Bahamian woman to sign a Division I scholarship straight out of high school.
“I’ve had all these experiences just because of this 28.5 weighted ball, and no student loans because of it. That’s pretty much how I got where I’m at, just working my way through the fields and using basketball as my gateway,” she said.
“I signed in November and I ended up going to Florida Atlantic University to start my collegiate career, and I didn’t go on any other visits, I didn’t understand the process. They asked me if I wanted to come, I said yeah, and ended up moving to the United States,” she said.
McPhee McCuin credits her parents for her success. Her mother is a principal and her father coached highschool basketball. Although her parents never pressured her to play a sport, they did push for something else.
“My parents just wanted me to be passionate about something and go after it and I was always around sports, I guess I couldn’t escape it,” McPhee McCuin said. “I’ve played every single sport.”
Lifelong career goals now true
That passion translated to McPhee McCuins belief that sports provide certain skills that few other things are able to, particularly for young women.
“I think that’s important too for young women, for them to play a sport,” McPhee McCuin said. “No matter if you’re not good at it or anything, because it teaches you toughness, resilience, it teaches you how to work with different people, community.”
In addition to her supportive parents, she credits her experience of coming to the United States that allowed her to gain a greater perspective on life.
“I have a hunger and I am very curious in getting to know people from different places, and why they function the way they do, think the way they do, and I think that has helped me along my journey,” she said.
“I understand that people are different, that you can’t put anybody in a box, and I think me being from just another country has helped me not look at people and try to put them in a box,” McPhee McCuin said. “Understand that if you’re from Mississippi, it’s different than being from New York, and I can relate to that because I was born and raised in another country, and having an appreciation for different backgrounds and upbringings.”
She carries this appreciation for differences to her coaching career. McPhee McCuin’s mantra for her and her team is “#NoCeilings”.
“You can’t have a limit on what you want to do,” McPhee McCuin said.
McPhee McCuin emphasized at one particular practice what she believes to be the key to being successful in all things you do.
“I think that we try to complicate success and what that looks like, but when you talk to successful people, and you study them, the recipe is pretty simple,” she said. “They’re just coachable and disciplined. I think although that seems small, it’s a big factor. Successful people are people who have great mentors and their mentors give them advice, and they follow it.”
McPhee practices what she preaches. When she is not juggling responsibilities of a head coach and mentor to collegiate athletes, a wife, and mother of two young daughters, she also runs her own foundation in the Bahamas called “Back2Basics” that helps young children develop through education and sports. She is also a member of the Bahamian Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2016 and the New England Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2013. The sport that she began at age five has now led McPhee McCuin to the career of her dreams.
“Just the fact that I have the opportunity to impact young people on a daily basis, and not only young women but, people that I come into contact with. It’s really my mission to teach, develop, and inspire. Glad and blessed to be able to do that every single day,” she said.
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