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‘Coach Yo’, a trend-changer at Ole Miss

When speaking with University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Assistant Director of Athletics Communications Chief of Media Contacts Tyler Wooten, one gets the clear picture that Grand Bahama native Coach Yolett ‘Coach Yo’ McPhee-McCuin has changed the trend for the better for the Ole Miss Lady Rebels.

Wooten, in an exclusive interview, identified ‘Coach Yo’ in a number of positive ways, but perhaps the most telling characteristic of her, was the term “giant ball of enthusiasm” that he emphasized. He acknowledged that previously (before ‘Coach Yo’) there was an element missing in Ole Miss regarding the Lady Rebels. Accordingly, the big effort to reach out has been huge for ‘Coach Yo’ and the program.

“‘Coach Yo’ is simply a giant ball of enthusiasm. I mean, she has got that enthusiasm level off the charts here the city of Oxford (and the wider area of the support base). The community at large has caught onto this enthusiastic atmosphere and she is fully responsible.

“She has made an effort to reach out to everybody and the response has been incredible. The attendance is improving and the whole enhancing perspective has to do with her general positive outlook. I mean, she doesn’t hang her head after a loss. She has always been realistic with us. We knew the cards she was handed.

“Personally, my take on this is that she has done a fantastic job. Look at it. You lose nine kids and have to virtually create a new team in a very short amount of time. With all that taken into consideration, what the team has done has been remarkable,” said Wooten.

He continues to be overwhelmed with one particular success item thus far for ‘Coach Yo’ and the Lady Rebels. Reference was to the monster milestone victory over the University of Kentucky on that institution’s home turf three weeks ago.

On January 13, the Lady Rebels, bolstered by a confidence-injecting head coach, went into the Kentucky Wildcats’ territory and defeated the host team, 55-49. It was the first win of the year for the Lady Rebels in the notedly rugged Southeastern Conference (SEC), and a rare instance of upending Kentucky in recent times.

“That win against Kentucky was significant. You go on the road against a ranked team and come away with the win. Add to the situation that she is able to use just about nine to 10 players, because of injury or some other reason. Now, that’s not an easy road. When you take into account this start compared to last year, the hope factor is big and the expectation is realistic,” said Wooten.

‘Coach Yo’ (up to press time for this column) had already led the Rebels to two SEC wins and eight season victories, compared to just one conference victory last year and 12 overall. The trend has been most encouraging for all and sundry, and the toughest to please, the media, has been appreciative of what’s going on with the Lady Rebels under ‘Coach Yo’.

There is recognition that she has the team ahead of schedule (compared to last season) and according to Wooten, the coach’s candidness has been refreshing for writers.

“More writers are following the Lady Rebels this year. It’s because of the excitement ‘Coach Yo’ has generated. She is candid with the media and that’s very important. After a bad loss, she has been open and honest, and that goes a long way with the media. They’ve bought into her. She has improved the culture in leaps and bounds in getting writers to cover the Lady Rebels. It helps of course, that she is an extremely good sound bite. You know ‘Coach Yo’. She always has a good quote,” said Wooten.

No doubt, the Bahamian mentor has made a world of a difference in Ole Miss campus/fraternity life.

Wooten has the advantage of an upfront and personal backdrop to ‘Coach Yo’.

He pays a lot of attention to observing the diminutive but power-paced women’s basketball mentor, and, believes the future figures to be much brighter than the present growing process.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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