Basketball coaches launch initiative to raise Black voices on and off the court

The Minnesota Black Basketball Coaches Association aims to be a resource to help coaches and athletes. (FOX 9)

Some of the most prominent basketball coaches in Minnesota are launching a new initiative as the Minnesota Black Basketball Coaches Association aims to build up players and coaches both on and off the court. 

“We are sitting in this gym, this is our classroom - how do we influence that?” said Larry McKenzie, head basketball coach at North High School in Minneapolis.

Therein lies the question, the challenge and the purpose behind the MBBCA.

McKenzie and Omar McMillan, teacher and head coach at Richfield High School, have been working on this initiative for nearly a year.

George Floyd’s death, however, brought a renewed awareness to their goals to help improve the lives of players and coaches along with the community. 

“The genesis of this was one to give us a united voice but also help people understand the challenges we have as African-American coaches are different,” said McKenzie.

It’s not just Black coaches; the association aims to be a resource to help all coaches better understand the kids they are coaching. 

“I can tell you my phone was ringing - one after another with coaches, white coaches, saying, ‘What do I say to my kids? How do I address this?’” said McKenzie.

By their count, there are 435 sports programs across the state, meaning about 870 varsity head boys and girls coaching positions. Currently, fewer than 50 are held by Black coaches. Statewide, there are just 11 African-American athletic directors and principals in positions to be doing the hiring. 

Through buying into the membership program, the MBBCA will offer seminars, resources, certification, conversations and all sorts of professional development aimed at getting more Black men and women into top coaching positions.  

“It is about shaping and molding what our present day and future is going to look like,” said McMillan.
Overall Coach McKenzie and Coach McMillan hope the association will in several ways reflect their own friendship: competitors on the court, while learning and cheering for one another every day.

“You can disagree, but at the same time we can also come together for the greater good,” said McKenzie.

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