First Family of Sports Award-Detail

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First Family of Sports Award-Detail
First Family of Sports Award-Detail

McPhee Family



    There aren't too many families around Tacoma who can brag they got the best of the nine robust Medved brothers in any athletic racket.

    The McPhees did - and gladly lived to tell about it.

    Much like the Medveds, the McPhees formed a large family: Bill and Georgia had nine children - Kathy, Diane, Scott, Colleen, Brad, Mark, Maureen, Bryce and Jim - during a 20-year span.

    And for a few years, the McPhee boys took on the Medved brothers in a friendly turkey-day basketball game on the inside full court gymnasium floor at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church.

    "One of my brothers dated a Medved girl," said Brad McPhee, the middle child. "We used to have those games, and our dads even showed up and they would get out there and run with us."

    Added Tim Medved: "Those McPhees were definitely competitive. It was all in good fun."

    For what they accomplished in a variety of sports, the McPhees are receiving the Tacoma Athletic Commission's annual "First Family of Sports Award" for 2019. They are the 14th family in the area to be honored by the TAC (which includes the Medveds, who received the award in 2012).

    Ed Ploof, the longtime athletic director at Bellarmine Prep, watched many of the McPhees put forth incredible performances on a nightly basis for the Lions.

    "They were very good athletes," Ploof said. "But they were exceptionally competitive, which raised their athleticism."

    Most people relate the McPhees prominently to one sport: Basketball. And it is pretty easy to trace how it all started.

    An avid outdoorsman, Bill McPhee grew up in tiny Bordeaux, once a booming lumber-mill town in Thurston County that eventually closed down in the 1940s.

    Because Bordeaux had no schools, Bill commuted 18 miles to neighboring Rochester High School to play football and basketball.

    He was a two-way standout in football, and received much recruiting interest from Washington State College (now WSU). But his favorite sport was basketball. At forward, he was the only player in two counties (Thurston/Grays Harbor) to average double digits in scoring as a senior in 1939.

    Bill accepted a scholarship to play basketball at Saint Martin's College (now St. Martin's University) in Lacey, and was a four-year letterman for former coaches Leonard Yandle (1940-42) and James Smith (1942-43).

    "We found a cigar box of all the articles on him that his mom saved," Jim McPhee said. "We asked him about them. He preferred self-deprecation."

    What Bill McPhee would often reminisce about from his college days was how he met the love of his life - Georgia.

    In the spring of 1943, Bill was finishing up his last semester at St. Martin's while Georgia, a recent Olympia High School graduate, was working as a secretary in nearby state government offices.

    Both were out with friends one night, but they all ended up at the Spar Restaurant in downtown Olympia, which is still in business today. Bill first saw her sitting on a barstool. Georgia told her family it was love at first sight.

    They still dated when Bill went off to St. Louis for medical school a few months later, and ended up getting married two years later in the summer of 1945.

    After Bill finished up his residency program at St. Joseph's Hospital, he opened a family practice in the south end of Tacoma.

    At that time, the McPhees' young family was growing rapidly. Dad was busy tending to patients while mom stayed home to raise children.

    The oldest set of siblings - Kathy, Diane, Scott and Colleen - were not distinguished athletes by any means during their childhoods. For one, opportunities were limited, especially for girls, in the 1950s and 1960s. And two, they were essentially junior caretakers for their younger brothers and sisters.

    "It was almost like two different families being raised - with Brad as the go-between for both groups," Bryce McPhee said. "Those first four (siblings), they went skiing, hunting, fishing and camping a lot."

    They did have horses, and the three oldest daughters spent countless hours riding them, or in the barn taking care of them.

    "It was our hobby," Colleen McPhee said. "We lived out in the country and we rode all around. It was fun."

    Kathy McPhee did play some volleyball and basketball at now-defunct St. Leo's High School where she graduated from in 1965. Diane McPhee was a year behind her. And Colleen McPhee playing in a Midland-area youth softball league, but went to Franklin Pierce High School before finishing up at Wilson High School.

    In 1968, the McPhee family moved to the north end of Tacoma. It was that year when Scott McPhee was also finishing up high school at St. Edward Seminary in Kenmore where he was the school's most outstanding athlete in four intramural sports - football, basketball, baseball and track and field.

    "I was pretty good in baseball," Scott said. "I played outfield, but the one thing I was able to do was hit the ball. I was no superstar, but I was fairly consistent."

    The McPhee siblings all agree on one thing: Brad was their first real accomplished athlete.

    At the time he was entering Bellarmine Prep in the late 1960s, the family's dynamic was changing. Bill's practice was firmly established, to the point where he and Georgia really took up golf, eventually becoming members at the Fircrest Golf Club.

    They also had more time to invest in their children's activities. Brad's two best sports were wrestling and football, but he also played basketball and golf in high school.

    He turned down an offer to wrestle for Linfield and instead went to the University of Washington where he studied to be a dentist.

    "We used to have a basketball hoop in the driveway, and there was always a game of '21' going on," Brad said. "Everyone knew everybody's moves. And there was a time when I was playing against Bryce when he was in high school, and I was in college. I was the wrestler, so I was physical. And there were no fouls, so I was pushing him all over the court. Suddenly, he dipped his shoulder into me, knocked the wind out of me - then knocked down the winning basket. He just smiled at me."

    The only child's team Bill McPhee ever volunteered to coach was Mark's sixth grade basketball squad at St. Charles.

    Mark McPhee played one season at Bellarmine Prep, but gave up competitive basketball to become a cheerleader.

    Maureen McPhee played four seasons of volleyball at Bellarmine Prep, and was voted as the most inspirational player in three different years.

    Then came along the "superstar" of the family - Bryce McPhee.

    Everything Bryce played, whether it was baseball (pitcher, first baseman, outfielder), or golf, he was good at.

    But he was an all-city post player at 6-foot-3, and drove bigger players bonkers with his steadfast work ethic.

    One of his rivals growing up was 6-10 Paridon Williams, a star at Foss High School who ended up playing one season at Grambling University.

    "He lived three blocks away, and they had a basketball court," Bryce said. "I got used to staring up at him all day."

    In his final two seasons at Bellarmine Prep, Bryce posted double-digit averages of 20 or more points, and 14 or more rebounds. The 1980 city-league most valuable player was also a Converse All-American honorable mention selection.

    "I've always been a hard worker," Bryce said. "But I was really quiet, and I didn't say two words to anybody. But I knew if you did the job right, people appreciated it."

    And yet, Bryce held no scholarship offers coming out of high school. He was set to walk on at Santa Clara when one of the NBA coaching greats of all-time intervened.

    Bryce was working at one of former Seattle Supersonics coach Lenny Wilkens' camps in Issaquah in the summer of 1980. At night, all the counselors played a pickup basketball game.

    Wilkens wandered out to the floor one night, and saw Bryce steal the show against some of the best college players in the Northwest. He immediately placed a call to then-Gonzaga coach Dan Fitzgerald, and bragged he was watching "the best player in the state" rule his camp.

    At the same time, a scholarship had just become available, and Fitzgerald immediately offered it to Bryce, who was a three-year starter for the Zags (1981-85) and left as just one of 44 career 1,000-point scorers in program history.

    The last brother was Jim McPhee, who often donned T-shirts growing up that stated his place in the family chain.

    "I was always wearing a shirt that said, 'Little McPhee,'" Jim said. "Most of them paved the way for me."

    Because Bryce was five years older, and closest in age, he became Jim's childhood idol.

    "Anything that I got, it was by his example," Jim said.

    In basketball, Jim was a shooting guard - and a pure scorer. But he was also tough, evidenced by when the all-state performer played much of his senior season at Bellarmine Prep in 1985 with a stress fracture in his foot.

    "I remember in the district tournament, he scored 25 points," former Bellarmine Prep coach Steve Anstett said, "on one leg."

    Jim went on to start his first game at Gonzaga University as a freshman - and every game thereafter (1985-90). He was a three-time, all-West Coast Conference first-team guard, and left as the school's No. 2 scorer all-time with 2,015 points, right behind Frank Burgess (2,196).

    In 1990, Jim went through Sonics rookie camp, and was invited by former coach K.C. Jones to play for the team in the NBA summer league in Los Angeles, playing with the likes of Shawn Kemp and Dana Barros.

    Jim performed so well, he stayed on during Sonics veteran camp for a brief time, but eventually was let go. He had an opportunity to play professionally overseas in Amsterdam, but instead opted to go to law school at Gonzaga.

    These days, Jim still lives in Spokane, and is the founder of the charity that organizes the Dan Fitzgerald Memorial Basketball Tournament for eight high school teams not only to play in, but volunteer in the community beforehand.

    The McPhees lived by a strict code: Share everything, and support one another at all costs. That was the model encouraged by Bill and Georgia, all the way up to their deaths (Bill died in 2011; Georgia in 2013).

    "I had so many great coaches, but not one of them was a father figure," Jim McPhee said. "My parents were the greatest parents. It was an unfair advantage in life."
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