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The man behind the successful trend Coach McPhee-McCuin is setting

The “woman behind the throne” has been a commonplace phrase for centuries.

However, throughout the years in all societies there have been men who made stalwart contributions to the success of their female partners.

I was in Oxford, Mississippi, recently to interact with key personnel at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and others. I also interviewed a man of boundless energy, intense devotion and loyalty to Yolett “Coach Yo” McPhee-McCuin; and tremendous dedication to a truly brilliant basketball mentoring career that is ongoing.

We spoke about his very special situation, whereby the partner, who happens to be the financial catalyst for the family, is the female. How has he been dealing with that reality?

“Well, I just try to take it day by day. I just try to make sure that I do as much as I possibly can to make sure that her life is much easier. I do understand the coaching aspect of everything she goes through, the recruiting, etc. She is always going to be on the road. Yolett is a great coach but even a better mom and a better wife. My goal is to make sure that I keep the family around her as much as possible, so that when she goes on the road, and if there is a place I can take the kids (two girls, six-year-old Yasmine and one-year-old Yuri), I take them so that she can be with them for a while. Of course, she sees me all the time, but the biggest thing is to make sure that she is comfortable, and I know that she is more comfortable when she can see her babies,” said Kelly McCuin.

Of course, McCuin comes from a position of being quite a quality professional in his own right. Yet he came to the decision, after digesting the full immediate family situation, that it would be best for all concerned if he made the adjustment in his mind that his wife would be the major financial provider.

“Well, it’s actually two-fold. It was the year before we graduated from college. I took a job that was paying me $51,000 per year and Yolett was only making, I think, $267 every two weeks. So, the breadwinner of the family was me. However, the passion for my job did not match the passion she had for what she did.

“So, in year one, I kind of realized that there was going to have to be a change, and that most likely it would be me who would change my position so that she could get going with her career and be great. It kind of went from that to when we moved to Portland, Oregon, and that’s when I began to see the greatness. She was able to go out and get a couple of recruits from Houston to come all the way up to Portland. So, I knew at that point in time, that she was going to be the one to carry the family financially and things like that; but I needed to be that support for her, to enable her to do what she did best.

“The second part of it, was the aspect of the kids. We were at Clemson and Yasmine was born and Yolett was an assistant. There were a couple of away games that I wasn’t able to get to with Yasmine so that she could see her baby. I kind of saw she was missing her baby and that’s why I decided that if she gets a position like where she is at Ole Miss I had to figure out a way to make sure that her kids could get to her, because I knew what the demand would be like.

“I tell you, though, it took a while for me to get into the mindset. Year one, going into year two I figured out that there was going to be a shift in terms of my job and my responsibilities, but, in year seven, that was when we knew that I would be the one to take care of the kids the majority of the time and get the family to her for her to feel comfortable with us all around. I can admit that it took a lot of maturity and a lot of prayer,” he admitted.

As it turns out, McCuin is the stabilizer for the family. He takes care of the kids, most of the time. He makes sure that if McPhee-McCuin needs anything, whether she is in office or has to eat, breakfast or lunch is taken to her. If she has to go to a meeting and she needs something from the home, then her husband takes that to her.

“She tells a lot of people that ‘I know my husband can take care of things’. That is the mindset that I continue to have. I know that once a coach can focus on their sport, they are better for that. With Yolett, I try my best to ensure that I allow her to just focus on basketball so that she does not have to worry about family or other issues. I protect her a lot to make sure she doesn’t have to be taken away from the main focus for her, basketball,” said McCuin.

Realistically, his body of responsibilities is wide and much appreciated, as confirmed by ‘Coach Yo’, in particular.

The truth of the matter is that his role carries with it the satisfaction of contributing greatly to where Coach Yo is at the moment — a major figure at one of the fabled institutions in the country. Together, they lay everything on the line and are interwoven with what goes on in the household and within the women’s basketball program at the university.

He willingly acknowledges that he would prefer to be the breadwinner. He recognizes, though, that for such to be the case, his wife would have to stop coaching, which there is absolutely no expectation of.

“She is not going to stop coaching. I don’t want her to stop. I am my wife’s biggest fan and also her biggest critic. When she wins and succeeds, so do I. We are in this together, and, it’s great team work across the board,” he said.

Candidly, Kelly said that, in his view, less than five percent of the male population that has a significant other, could handle the situation that he is in. It is a role that he came to accept, and he appreciates the fact that he is still accepted as the leader of the family without being the top breadwinner.

In observing the family, the status quo is clear. Coach Yo and the girls defer to the husband and father.

He is in a role, men don’t normally wrap their heads around, but McCuin has mastered the road map for what he considers to be practical and best for the family.

His throne is secured, despite the reversal of responsibilities. He is a giant of a man!

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

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