In her two seasons with the Rebels, women’s basketball head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin has not been able to achieve a perfect season, but she has established a community wide fan-base — partially by using her platform on on social media to advocate for adherence to safety guidelines during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“I am truly saddened to see videos of college students partying without a mask,” McPhee-McCuin tweeted on Aug. 15. “Student-athletes, coaches, admin have been working tirelessly to follow the rules man! Jobs have been lost, lives changed/lost! What is it going to take? Wear a mask!”
For McPhee-McCuin, the news of people ignoring guidelines and disregarding the fact the ongoing pandemic pushed her to speak out. She said the general population doesn’t see the sacrifices student-athletes take on to be able to play the sport.
“Since our players have returned to campus, they have had to change the ways they live their lives,” McPhee-McCuin said. “They are constantly being tested and wearing masks. Along with that, people are losing jobs and taking pay cuts. I was just saying how I really felt. Across the country with athletics, we are trying our best to keep this thing going.”
McPhee-McCuin said she understands that what she says as head coach reflects on the university and the women’s basketball team, and to her, that makes her advocacy all the more important.
“I recognize that I have a responsibility with what I say and how I say it and the message that’s portrayed,” McPhee-McCuin said. “I want people to know that there is a lot of thought that goes into anything that I press send on. I do not get on social media when I am angry or feeling some way. I really use it as a place to enlighten, give confidence and as a recruiting tool.”
To date, the women’s basketball team has not had any positive COVID-19 tests. In addition, the team is gearing up for a real run this season. According to ESPN, the University of Mississippi women’s basketball team has the No. 13 best recruiting class in the country and the No.1 recruiting class in the SEC.
“We all have people to worry about,” McPhee-McCuin said, further emphasizing the importance of the health and safety of her players. “I have a family, my coaches have families, and you have families. We really love each other, and the players and coaches are taking it very seriously.”