Love and basketball
Proud barbadian coach living in Boston passionate about giving back to his country
To call Cory McCarthy a proud Barbadian is the understatement of the decade.
This could possibly be the first time that many people in the island have even heard his name but wherever the Black Rock-born replanted Bostonian goes, or whatever he does, Bimshire is never far from his mind.
The former St Stephen’s Primary pupil is a seven-time basketball coach of the year, a winner of four state championships, one Amateur Athletic Union Title and he is awaiting his 17th under state championships.
He has also captured one Mass Charter School Basketball Championship, with a 207 wins-47 defeats coaching record.
The 2010 national coach of the year and a man, who has sent more than 90 black players/students to four colleges in the past decade, is always thinking about how best he can share his resources with the place he loves the most.
Before McCarthy and his four siblings migrated to the United States in 1984 to be with their parents, the then seven-year-old was consumed by the relaxed and uninhibited nature of island life. Many days, as a fun loving, adventure seeking boy, he would leave his grandmother Lilian Deane’s home on Danesbury’s Road and cross the highway to the nearby Paradise beach for a grand Caribbean time filled with cricket and football.
So it was very baffling to several people who knew him, including himself, that he could excel at coaching basketball since he had never played it or furthermore, never showed any interest in it whatsoever. But that interest would come when, four years after he and his siblings left the island, his father died.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY via telephone from his home in Boston, Massachusetts, McCarthy explained after his dad died things became really hard on his mother. As the baby of the family, he resolved that he would be the last person his mum would ever have to worry about.
At age 14, to distance himself from trouble, McCarthy took up a basketball for the first time. He also got involved in athletics and started playing American football. Then sports became his thing, he said. That is, until the year 2000 when he graduated from the University of Massachusetts.
That year, McCarthy decided to get “serious” and he decided to go to law school. But in the meantime he had to look for a job, and suprisingly a teaching assistant job at the New Vision High School came in 2003. Soon there after, he was offered the task of coaching a girls basketball team at the school.
Laughing, McCarthy believed his physique was what landed him that gig.
“In the public school system in a city, in an urban setting, everybody feels like the only person that can communicate with people is the big black man. I’m 6 ft about 240 pounds and I’m a Bajan, I talk straight with people. I don’t cut corners, I tell you straight up. So even though I had very little coaching experience, they felt like my message would have been stronger,” he said.
Initially, it was going to be “just a gig”. He would keep the girls busy. No one had any idea that this would turn into a powerhouse of a programme. That first season the team was 10 for 10; the next year they won the Massachusetts championship. Afterwards, they decided to go bigger and a couple years later he created history by winning the state wide championship with six girls.
With the success of the girls team under his belt, in 2009 his principal asked that he take over the job of head coach of the boys. And as the old adage goes, “the rest is history”. The boys won the state championship in 2010, 2011 and 2014.
In the past decade he has won more than 200 games, which is a big deal. Though still actively coaching, McCarthy is hoping for the opportunity to give some basketballers in his birthplace, exposure to his expertise.
The now father of a pre-teen emphasised he would like to use some of his successes to set up a programme or run some basketball camps in Barbados for players in secondary school, hopefully in August next year.
“In my mind I probably thought it was a fluke, I thought it was something completely unreal, maybe I just got lucky. . . When people see me out, they stop to talk basketball or to tell me about their kids. I’ve turned down more than enough college jobs, that stuff is great and all but it is not as great if I don’t share with my people,” he said.
“When I do things I always have Bim in the back of my mind; how could I get back home and get things moving and develop talent, develop kids and build up a youth programme? The kids up here are allowed to dream because they know if they are good in high school, they can go college, from college the NBA. That doesn’t happen for the normal kids in Barbados who loves basketball but if they have a resource like me and a gateway through a programme they will be great. And I ain’t asking for no money. I ain’t asking for nothing free, I just say help me help these kids develop, help me run my camp and that is it,” he stressed.
McCarthy is married to a division 1 college basketball coach, Justine McCarthy and he believes such a youth programme could not only be instrumental in creating a gateway for children who truly are desirous of a future in basketball but that it could help persons stay out of trouble, build character and good sportsmanship.
“You have some one who is proud to be Bajan. When I first took the job as the girls’ basketball coach do you know the first thing I changed?” McCarthy asked as he laughed out loud.
“I changed the team colours from blue and white to blue and yellow because everywhere I go Barbados is with me. If I can find a way to connect and help kids in Barbados, I’m going to use my success here to do it. No matter who isn’t calling me back when I get to Barbados they are going to hear my voice and I will find resources to help these kids. I’ll bring the basketballs, all I need is two courts and kids who want to learn and develop and I’ll spend one or two weeks helping them,” McCarthy added.
“I don’t want to boast to Barbados what I have done, I want to say to Barbados ‘use me, use what I have done to help people’. Barbados means everything to me. I probably make about 30 Barbados references a day no matter who I am speaking to.
“I used to go to sociology class and use Red Plastic Bag and Gabby to teach kids in the city about politics and how to speak up against governments. And they couldn’t believe how artistes were able to freely talk against or about the government. I introduced so many kids to social commentary. My connection with Barbados has really taught me, it has such an influence on what I do with the kids now. This is why I want to give back and this is the way that I can now thank the people of Barbados for raising me, he said.