For some, this COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll physically and mentally. However, for Bahamian professional basketball player in Spain Willis Mackey Jr., he has turned his focus to doing video blogs, commonly known as vlogs, to help him get through the pandemic.
In addition to his vlogs on YouTube, Mackey has been making music. He said “vlogging” has helped him cope with the presence of the pandemic.
“It helped me cope in many ways because it keeps my mind flowing,” Mackey said. “I wake up with ideas about what I want to put on YouTube next. Usually, it is something related to how I am feeling. The pandemic has been the topic, so I have been doing videos about that lately. It occupies my time. I really have fun doing it, so when I am editing videos and thinking of new ideas, it does not feel like a drag. Time just flies.”
His first video was posted back in December 2019 and his last vlog was done four days ago, when he posted about how COVID-19 affected his first year playing professionally. Mackey has posted eight videos in the last month and has nine videos in total.
For Mackey, a 2019 Forensic Accounting graduate of the University of Northwestern Ohio, said he learned to edit videos while in college. He uses iMovie to edit his videos along with watching tutorials to make his videos more professional.
The Grand Bahamian plays for Aquimisa Carbajosa in Spain’s Liga Espanola De Baloncesto Aficionado (EBA), the fourth division of basketball in that country. The team is based in Salamanca, Spain.
The forward said his inspiration to start vlogs has been mainly to assist up and coming players.
“I wanted my vlog channel to be a way for me to show my experience and the possibilities that come from overseas basketball, but also as a way to give information. So, you will see basketball related videos, and also some traveling videos. The vlog is also a way, as a young Bahamian, to show other up-and-coming Bahamian basketball players that this is possible for us,” said Mackey.
Mackey is looking at the possibility to doing vlogs full-time, particularly travel vlogs. He has been on lockdown in Spain since March 11, and said he tried leaving to come home to The Bahamas on March 17 but was unable to do so because The Bahamas was in the process of closing its borders.
Other than creating vlogs and making music, Mackey has been working out in his apartment and taking walks to the grocery store – that and the pharmacy are the only places they are allowed to go to. Also helping him to cope with the pandemic was changing his sleeping schedule to suit Eastern Standard Time (EST) so he could talk to family and friends back home. Time in Salamanca, Spain, is six hours ahead of EST in The Bahamas.
In one of his videos, Mackey spoke about what it is like outside in his area.
“Walking the streets and showing how there is no one on the streets, it feels like the world has ended and it’s just a few of us left here,” he said. “When I walk the streets, I see about two or three people (at the most) in the stores. There aren’t many people there either, and when you do see people, you can tell that they are a little hesitant to get too close. People are afraid. The situation is very real here, and it shows every day.”
Although he is making the most of his experience in Spain, he is longing to return home. He said he is looking to coordinate a return home with other Bahamian players when the borders re-open.
“My most realistic route back home is either through the UK (United Kingdom) or Canada,” Mackey said. “I’m hoping once they begin to open the borders back up, I can coordinate some plans to leave with some of the other basketball players who are also stuck in Europe. Hopefully, we can all unite and make our way back home.”
According to the John Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, Spain had 182, 816 confirmed cases and 19,130 deaths as of yesterday afternoon. It is the second most confirmed cases of the coronavirus outbreak behind the United States of America (USA).
Mackey and his team were undefeated this season, sporting a perfect 20-0 record. They had their eyes set on a championship in their league. Mackey said he was very disappointed that the season was cut short.
The 23-year-old appeared in 18 games this season, averaging 16.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game to lead his team in both categories. Defensively, he averaged 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals per game.
“For my first year, to lead a team that way, that was something special,” Mackey said. “I am proud of that and it’s something I will always cherish. What made the season better for me was the off-court relationships I gained while being here. The guys on my team formed a brotherhood… I couldn’t picture a better way for a debut season, other than finishing with a championship of course.”
February was a very special month for Mackey as he made his debut for The Bahamas’ senior men’s national basketball team when he played in the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers for The Bahamas against Mexico. According to him, no other opportunity in his career can compare to playing with Team Bahamas.
“It was the biggest honor of my life. I had the opportunity to play in front of thousands of people in my young career. I have played on some good teams and represented some special organizations, but I can firmly say, none of those opportunities compared to playing for my country and having the word ‘Bahamas’ across my chest. It was more than basketball for me,” Mackey said.
He is looking forward to playing for The Bahamas in the future.
Mackey’s YouTube page is WMII Vlogs.