Scout offers chance for athletes to LEAP to success

| 09/08/2011

(CNS): With a number of talented young players on the Cayman Islands national basketball team, one or two of them have a chance of playing for a living in the Spanish or Italian basketball leagues thanks to trainer, mentor and expert in the sport, Cory McGee (left). A scout and founder of LEAP, based in the UK, McGee says that local players certainly have the talent to play professionally but as they are not seen on the international stage they are not getting the chance to try out for key European teams. Here in the Cayman Islands to help bridge that gap, McGee told CNS that for the young athletes who have a chance of getting on a team, staying there is far tougher than the players can even begin to imagine.

LEAP, the programme founded by McGee, is not just about spotting talent and sporting success, it is also about preparing young players for the life changing experience of actually playing for a living. He also noted that the skills young people learn on LEAP can be used in other aspects of their lives even if they never go on to play professionally.

However, for those that want to make a living in sport, he explained there is a need for them to prepare mentally for the competitive nature of professional sport and the expectations of, as well as pressures on, players once they are part of league teams. He said these could be enormous and often even the most talented players fail to make the grade because they are not properly prepared.

“The goal is to educate players about thosepressures, the life changing experience and how to cope,” McGee said. “It’s not getting a spot on a team that is necessarily the hard part for talented players, it's keeping it.”

From TV and newspapers that they can’t understand because of the different languages, to not understanding what to buy in the supermarket or not being able to manage money or cope with the strict discipline of team life, even the most talented players can be brought down by what may seem like the simplest of things. McGee said that most professional coaches and managers pull no punches and are not interested in excuses or the fact that a player might be homesick. Before any young player can hope to survive in the professional leagues many will have to face a significant attitude adjustment.

Not surprisingly, young players yearn to play ball for a living, but McGee pointed out that while they dream of the game they never consider the realities of life overseas, far from home and under constant pressure to perform at their best for each and every game.  “Regardless of the level of talent, players need to adapt mentally before I can find them a contract,” McGee said.

Recognising the passion in a number of young local players, he says that with a little help there are members of the Cayman national team that could make it in Spain or Italy, which are the biggest basketball leagues in Europe. Although he has been working with the youngsters on the court for most of last week, he said that this week he will be in the classroom focusing on the areas which will, in the end, present the greatest obstacles to them becoming professional players.

“I can help them understand how competitive it is and what will be expected of them in what will be difficult circumstances and prepare them,” he said.  “No one can expect to step off the plane and survive without knowing what is in store.”

Having played himself in numerous European leagues and ten different countries, McGee has been sharing the benefit of his own experience with Cayman’s team, alongside Coach Voot O' Garro, whom he spoke of with enormous admiration and said he had done an incredible job with the national team. McGee said it was clear from Coach Voot’s passion and the effort he has put in that he wants his players to gain that valuable international experience playing overseas and to have their talent seen by a wider audience. 

McGee has worked for several years in the UK and has spent time in over 20 schools looking for youngsters talented enough to join the big European teams but also for those that have the right attitude and that can adapt.

Offering a unique opportunity for Cayman’s national players, Mc Gee said he hoped the youngsters would listen and learn while he was here before he could begin to secure contracts for some of them. “Dribbling and shooting hoops is only part of it; the rest is all about hard work, consistency, dedication and the right mentality,” he explained.

McGee came to Cayman as a result of the corroboration of a number of people, including Katina Anglin-Powery, who found McGee in the UK and persuaded Colin Anglin at the ministry and the local basketball association to bring him over and organise his visit to give Cayman’s players this unique opportunity.

McGee said so far he has been impressed with the local talent, and if some of the players can adapt, there are opportunities that at least a few Cayman players could seize. McGee said that LEAP’s motto is “Changing the world one dribble at a time” and he hoped he can help to do that here too.

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  1. 345 = A DOZEN says:

    "NOT GETTING THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE SEEN ON THE WORLD STAGE",  well thats not a new revelation is it?? In fact, that is the story behind generations of natural talent from all avenues, not just sports, born and fostered in the Cayman Islands. When will we  and our government wake up and  realize that our best asset is truly our people. Time to stop investing in materialism and vanity. No more mad spending on fancy buildings bearing the names of politicians. Its high time for the money to go into the development and promotion of our people and their dreams.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Newsworthy? Seriously? Come on! Is there any chance in teaching these kids that what they need is an education, not a five minute career in basket ball that they will drop out of before they have paid off their first set of 22" rims on their Hummers.

    Why doesn't anyone here have a grown up attidtude? This 'Wanna be da Gangsta and get shiny tings for da hood' attitude is pathetic.

    Breeding licences is what cayman needs, not shattered dreams of being the next basketball sensation.

    • Katina Anglin says:

      First let me make two minor corrections:

      1. Coach Voot is not the current National Team coach. He is  the women's coach and the former men's (National) team coach. Under his leadership the team was a medal winning team, including gold.

      2. There is a typo as relates to the actual number of schools, which is over 20 and not over 200, though an understandable mistake.

      Now on to the topic of educating our youth.

      Can you please provide the statistics that prove how many athletes in this country Coach Voot alone has placed into overseas colleges over the years, much less the other athletic committees/associations? Perhaps we should ask the collegiates on the basketball team to do this research to ascertain the total number of athletes placed in scholarships so that you can be formerly educated in the benefits of basketball/sports so that we can all be educated in whether sports is a substantial vehicle to a higher education?

      Did you know that Cory McGee's college education was asa result of a scholarship, to the tune of $84,000.00?

      Perhaps you also didn't stop to gather the relevant information that would correlate basketball to a 'Wanna be da Gangsta and get shiny tings for da hood' attitude? Pro basketball players are too afraid of prison to partake in that mentality…they have too many millions on the line to think that way.

      Give me a 5-minute stardom on a professional court on Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaq or Lebron James' (to name a few) salary and see if I couldn't buy a hummer also. And return home to invest in the youth in sports in Cayman from the balance of my account.

      A grown up attitude should be one of this: to enhance the overall wellbeing of the child through the provision of emotional, psychological and moral support – in whatever field they choose to pursue.

      Not all people are academical. Some are menial (like the mechanic who fixes your car so that you can get about in your daily duties) and some are athletic (like those named before). But either way you view it, they all maximize the skills that they have.

      And there's no law that says that professional basketball has to remain a dream for any young Caymanian, although I do concede that accomplishing that dream becomes a whole lot more difficult when you have people trampling on your dream and trying to shut open doors, as you are doing now. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      You should also be ashamed to insinuate that a sports player's ranking is not as high as an academic, or that sports is not worthwhile pursuing.

      And you should apologize to Coach Voot for the outlook that all his efforts to develop the sport of basketball in this country was a waste of the youths' time that should have instead been spent in a classroom only.

      And to Mr. McGee for insulting his efforts of trying to bridge a gap between this country and the outside world for the benefit of youth in this country. And you're trying to tear it down. 

      But I, always on a quest for knowledge, ask that you please research the programmes mentioned (yes, I'm leaving that for you to do to help educate us of such little academic capacity) and respond with an EDUCATED assessment of the role and benefits of sports.

      Then and only then should you even entertain the thought of replying to this comment.


      Katina Anglin.