Entering year 8 as a professional sports organization, Kayla Crosby and Head Coach Raheem Singleton are cooking up something special in Jamestown.
Jamestown, New York – There’s a reason why some young Team Market Owners heed the advice and words of wisdom from Kayla Crosby. That’s what comes with being a front office vet with eight years experience leading a sports organization and being a mainstay in The Basketball League.
You tend to learn a thing or two.
It was TBL Draft Night in Indianapolis a couple of weeks back, and Crosby found herself holding court of her own on a Saturday night. As TBL teams from across the country contemplated doing some wheeling and dealing with first round selections, a trend started taking place. More and more teams were seeking the valuable insight of the TMO for the Jackals. Her words carried weight. It was less about swapping picks with Jamestown and more about soaking up some wise council from Crosby. Some might chalk that up to a shared bond and budding relationships between TMO’s in some parts of the TBL. Better yet, it’s a reflection of Croby’s character and what she’s been able to accomplish in Jamestown by striking the balance between giving back to her community and striving to build a winning organization with the Jackals.
Last winter, Crosby and the Jackals spent the offseason “being the change” by conducting free youth basketball camps, leading a YMCA mentoring program entitled “Be The Change”, while also holding a variety of tryout dates as the organization struck the balance between giving back to the community in Jamestown and preparing for the upcoming ‘23 TBL season. That trend has continued of late as the Jackals visited Washington Middle School and also organized a shoe sponsorship with Puma Basketball and “Be The Change” mentoring program.
When Crosby first started the Jackals, she joked that the team would be her side hustle. The in-depth featured story was well-told in GQ Sports back in 2021, but now with training camp tipping-off for the ‘23 TBL season, the punchline has clearly transformed into a passion for basketball, community, and people for Kayla Crosby.
It’s hard to believe another TBL basketball season is here already. Looking back on how long the Jackals have been around from their semi-pro days and before joining TBL, does heading into training camp and this preseason have a different feel to it for you?
It definitely does. I am excited for this season and truly cannot believe it is our 8th year. Attending the Team Market Owners meetings and TBL Draft Combine recently just further excites me for the season to get here. Coach Raheem Singleton has been here a majority of the offseason, so it’s been really nice to have his leadership and support as we work to have the best set up yet.
TBL fans may not know, but you have been in Jamestown since earning a basketball scholarship to Jamestown Community College and playing for the Lady Jayhawks before moving on to St. Bonaventure. Could you have imagined back then that you’d still be part of the Jamestown community?
Not at all. I’m from Russell, Pennsylvania which is about 20 minutes from Jamestown. I honestly had no intentions of going to Jamestown Community College until I was offered a scholarship. I knew I didn’t want to go too far from home, but I honestly always planned to be in Pennsylvania.
You also helped JCC capture a Region Championship in 2010 as a player. How did your own passion for playing basketball eventually evolve into you becoming a GM in TBL with the Jackals?
I’ve always loved the game of basketball, and would play year-round growing up. I honestly had no plans on a future career in the basketball world though. I went to school to be a teacher, had full intentions of working with young children, however, I absolutely love the work that I do and the impact we are able to have in the community.
What are you most proud of in your role?
The growth that I have had personally and the growth of the organization. We’ve come a long way since 2015.
Along with the Jackals you also serve as Campus Life at JCC…what’s the key to striking that balance between basketball and life, or other career aspirations?
I’d say the key is my “why”, the purpose behind what I do. I’m always striving to have a positive impact in others lives and thankfully I am able to do so in both roles.
Any advice for aspiring female sports professionals looking to leave their mark in sports business?
Have confidence in what you do and trust your gut. Everyone else might not agree with your thought process or reasoning, but sometimes it’s those tough decisions that can truly make a difference.
How would you describe the offseason for the Jackals? Coming off of last season, what were some areas where you focused your attention as a GM and getting ready for the 2023 season?
We’ve spent a lot of the offseason pouring into the youth of our community. I’ve spent a lot of time networking and working to expand our sponsorships and game day attendance. This is truly a re-build year. The past two seasons we lost in the 2nd round of playoffs and we shouldn’t have.
Now that the Draft Combine and the selection process has come and gone, what are your immediate thoughts about the meetings and workouts in Indianapolis?
I thought the meetings were great! I always love networking with the other TMOs, GMs, and Coaches. It’s great to share ideas as we prepare for the seasons. It’s exciting to have so many players trying out, each seeking opportunities for their futures.
Over the past few weeks and also the upcoming weeks, guys have been on the court at tryout camps and trying to get training camp invitations. What’s your biggest message to those young guys looking to get their shot? Or even to guys coming back to further their own careers in training camp?
Be in shape and don’t take anything for granted. Every second counts and effort and determination make all the difference.
Wendell Maxey is the author of Around The Basketball League and has written about professional basketball and sports for 19 years. He’s been featured on NBA.com, ESPN.com, USA Today, FOX Sports, and SLAM Magazine among other publications and media outlets. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or read through his archive on Linktree.