In 2019, Timmance McKinney was named the Head Varsity Basketball Coach at City on a Hill Charter School in Dudley Square in Roxbury, making him the youngest varsity coach in the state of Massachusetts at just 25 years old.
McKinney started his journey as a young person growing up in Jamaica Plain. His whirlwind career would take him to high schools and junior colleges in Connecticut, Texas, North Dakota and Colorado before he ended up back in Boston, where he was able to fully realize his love of coaching. But McKinney’s journey hasn’t always been easy, and he now hopes that his life can be an example to other young people.
As a youth in Jamaica Plain, McKinney had only two goals: go to a Division 1 school and play for the NBA.
“I didn’t want anything else,” he said. “I spent hours on the courts, in the gym, and watching basketball videos on YouTube.”
A student at the Hennigan School, McKinney passed his afternoons on the Hennigan Community Center basketball courts. During his middle school years at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Roxbury, he was in the gym seven days a week and would take the bus to Curtis Hall with his friends to practice. His hard work on the courts began to pay off as coaches began to recruit him for their travel teams.
But McKinney soon learned that hard work on the courts had to be balanced with hard work in the classroom. He started off his high school years at Charlestown High School before transferring to Milton High School and eventually to Avon Old Farms School, an all-boys boarding school in Connecticut. As a high school student, McKinney was recruited by a handful of Division I schools, but he was ineligible to attend because his grades failed to meet the requirements of the NCAA.
Frustrated, McKinney started applying to Division I junior colleges. He ended up at Howard College in Texas before an injury caused him to transfer to Lake Region State College in North Dakota. Following a coaching change, he left to attend Colorado Northwestern Community College.
“My rollercoaster ride from three different high schools to three different junior colleges helped me realize that I wanted to be a basketball coach and mentor and to help kids from my city,” he said.
McKinney returned to Boston after graduation and quickly started a mentoring program for young men in his hometown. He speaks to groups of student athletes where he emphasizes the importance of prioritizing academics and education over athletics.
“I believe my story will benefit these kids because at their age, they are putting sports before school,” he said. “I want them to see that taking that path at a young age really hurt my future.”
McKinney got his first high school coaching opportunity at St. Joseph’s Preparatory High School in Brighton where he was the junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant coach. He went on to coach at the Park School in Brookline, where he led his team to a 14-1 winning season and a Hoopfest Championship, the largest outdoor basketball tournament in the world.
Despite a career that has taken him all over the country, McKinney is proud of his roots and is eager to give back to the city that raised him.
“Growing up in Jamaica Plain made me the man I am today,” he said. “My main goal is to use my story to help the next generation of young men in Boston.”
Learn more about McKinney on his website at timmancemckinney.com.