Coaches association developed with vision

Minneapolis North boys basketball coach Larry McKenzie
Credit: Photo courtesy of summit.coachesclinic.com

In October 2020, the Minnesota Black Basketball Coaches Association (MBBCA) released a press release announcing the formation of their organization.

“We are proud to announce the formation of the Minnesota Black Basketball Coaches Association (MBBCA),” the press release states in its opening paragraph.

The organization, which is led by Minneapolis North head boys basketball coach Larry McKenzie and Richfield coach Omar McMillan was formed for Black coaches throughout the state to use as a platform for change.

It was a long time coming for coaches who, past and present, have experienced and confronted different aspects of racism and discrimination during their careers.

According to the soon-to-be-historic press release, the development of the MBBCA was one of the most important events in our history that occurred in May 2020.

The second paragraph of the press release was powerful:

“After witnessing the tragic 8 minutes and 46 seconds of George Floyd losing his life at the hands of those who have been sworn to “Protect and Serve” and seeing the rest of world finally realizing that which we have known for a long time: that Black America is suffering at alarming rates and top of the list for every single disparity that exist within this country,including the great state of Minnesota.”

The website (www.mbbca.com) lists a who’s who of Black coaches in the state that make up the MBBCA leadership team.

McKenzie (president) is a Hall of Fame coach who led the Polars to the Class 2A state boys basketball tournament last March. He led Minneapolis Henry to Class 3A titles in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and North to Class 1A crowns in 20016 and 2017.

McMillan (first vice president) has developed Richfield into one of the state’s top programs. He led the team to one of its best seasons en route to the Class 3A state tournament in 2020, before the pandemic hit, and led them to the tourney this past season.

Tanysha Scott (second vice president) coached DeLaSalle to the 2019 Class 3A state girls basketball crown and had them in the 2020 championship game before the Pandemic.

She left DeLaSalle, her alma mater, after the season and now coaches at Roseville.

Michael Walker (secretary), who also coaches with the prestigious Howard Pulley AAU program came back to his alma mater, Minneapolis Roosevelt, to coach the boys’ basketball program from 2018-2021.

Jamil Jackson (treasurer) has been on course to bring the Minneapolis Henry’s program back to respectability since he became boys basketball coach a few years ago.

He developed and hosted a City Conference boys basketball jamboree—the first in decades—a few years ago.

Former University of Minnesota player Damian Johnson (At-Large Board of Director) leads the boys’ basketball program at Benilde-St. Margaret’s after developing an outstanding program at North St. Paul.

James Ware (At-Large Board of Director) has led Park Center to recent boys basketball state tournament and played in the 1994 Class AA championship game against Minneapolis Washburn before embarking on a successful Division I career.

Broderick “Bo” Powell (At-Large Board of Director), who now coaches the boys’ program at Robbinsdale Cooper, led Minneapolis North to the Citi Conference Championship in 2010 and Park Center to a runner-up finish in the Class 4A state tournament in 2013.

Tara Starks, who starred for Minneapolis North’s girls basketball program in the mid-1990s​,​ led Hopkins to a No. 1 national ranking and Class 4A second-place finish in 2021, her first season as a head coach.

In 2010 I accompanied my father Kwame JC McDonald to a banquet where he was being inducted in the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Honor for his contributions to the sport.

During the banquet, he was approached by Powell and then Washburn head coach Reggie Perkins—now the school’s athletic director—about starting a Black coaches association.

Their vision is now a reality.