By Samantha Bramlett
Yolett McPhee-McCuin, better known as “Coach Yo,” is well into her second year as the Ole Miss Women’s basketball coach where she is currently on an upward journey to make her squad the best Ole Miss has seen. However, McCuin offers so much more to the university community than just her vast knowledge of basketball.
After being hired in the spring of 2018, her first order of business was to get to know her new squad and to figure out what Oxford was all about. There were many seniors on the team and McCuin wanted to ensure that she gave them all she could offer with the short time they had left playing college basketball.
“Whenever there is a coaching change it’s hard, so I wanted to get a hold of the group that I had and see how I could help them because there were a lot of seniors. I wanted to help them on their way out and just give them everything that I could in the short amount of time that they had left,” McCuin said.
One important job of a basketball coach, besides coaching the current team, is to market Ole Miss Basketball to fans and recruits. McCuin knew if she wanted to sell Ole Miss Women’s Basketball, she needed to know what it meant to be an Ole Miss Rebel first.
“When I recruit, I want to talk about what I believe. Therefore, I had to immerse myself into the community so I didn’t sound scripted,” McCuin said.
Immersing herself into the community is exactly what she did. From building up an impressive social media following or going to speak to various groups of people, she did it all by spreading her knowledge and believes of being passionate throughout life.
Building any program into what it has the potential to be requires hard work and passion. Those are two qualities that McCuin strongly believes in. She knows that turning something into greatness takes time. Within that time, there are ups and downs and sometimes it is hard to stay positive through it all. McCuin’s advice for getting the low points is focusing on your “why.”
“I think that you can be positive when you focus on the why. Obviously, I don’t always have good days,” McCuin said.
McCuin states that her “why” is showing God that she appreciates being blessed with everything she has. In order to show her gratitude, she feels she must use the platform she was given to teach, develop and encourage others.
“When you focus on your core values and your mission then most times you can be pretty consistent,” McCuin says.
Ryan O’Connor, the coach of the Ole Miss Cheerleaders, works alongside McCuin frequently in order to provide Ole Miss with the best basketball gameday possible. O’Conner and McCuin both share the same value of remembering your “why.”
“Every person and every team will face challenges on their journey, but remembering your “why” is about having a vision that keeps you focused, positive and motivated to reach those goals,” O’Connor said.
Both coaches find that it is important to be focused on a vision that leads them to which choices to make every day. This is what helps them reach their personal goals and the goals they’ve set with their team.
McCuin uses her social media platforms to remind her and her followers of her vision. These posts are filled with inspiration, encouragement, and motivation for her followers every day. McCuin is transparent and chooses to showcase her “why” which is how she built up her great following.
The term “No Ceilings” is a phrase that is constantly posted all over her social media. This term is a motto for both McCuin and her team. It helps them remember that there’s truly no ceiling on how high you can take your goals.
The saying “No Ceilings” was thought up not by McCuin but instead by a freshman at Clemson when McCuin was an assistant coach there. The freshman asked McCuin what her saying was going to be when she was a head coach someday. Then shortly after, she suggested that it should be “No Ceilings.”
“She said I kept telling them that it’s not enough and that they can do more and that’s exactly what ‘No Ceilings’ means,” McCuin says.
Recently, McCuin posted about the new theme for this year’s team which is “Action.” This theme stemmed from how she believes society doesn’t have to live in reality and how someone can be entirely different on the screen than they are in person.
“I think that actions should matter more than words. Actions are a language. Let’s not talk about it, let’s be about it,” McCuin said.