How this Scarborough man rose to the WNBA executive ranks

Inside Travis Charles’ workplace, it would not take lengthy to see the place the vice chairman of basketball operations for the WNBA’s Dallas Wings is from.

If the flag on the wall would not give it away, the Blue Jays cap on the locker in all probability ought to.

“I am shouting from the mountaintops that I am Canadian,” stated Charles. “You stroll into my workplace, the very first thing you see is the Canadian flag. You may’t see it.”

If that wasn’t sufficient, Charles makes certain to inform anybody who bothers to hear that he is from Scarborough. It is the place he calls residence and the place a hearth was planted to make him the WNBA govt he’s at this time.

As a result of the job requires time all 12 months lengthy, Charles has been away from residence so lengthy that he nonetheless refers to Scotiabank Enviornment because the Air Canada Heart, and to him, the Rogers Heart will eternally be referred to as the SkyDome. Charles is already getting ready for the subsequent Wings season, set to start in Might, hoping to make the playoffs for the third 12 months in a row and broaden on final season’s third-place end within the Western Convention.

The Dallas govt grew up in several components of Scarborough, dividing time between his dad and mom’ properties on Victoria Park Avenue and Lawrence Avenue East, and Nelson Road and Shepherd Avenue East. He can keep in mind enjoying for Scarborough Highway Runners as a child. He now makes important selections and offers entrance workplace recommendation for the WNBA.

However earlier than Charles’ rise to govt positions, his resolution to play basketball principally left him out of a job for years. With out figuring out a single soul within the trade, he left Canada as a result of the probabilities of discovering basketball work within the nation have been like discovering a needle in a haystack.

After years on the transfer, from junior school to working below a sports activities company, he moved to Atlanta in 2009 with hopes of entering into teaching. Charles labored at a local people middle whereas discovering the time to attend any NBA basketball recreation, school and highschool, to attach with as many individuals as potential. Recognized for its wealthy basketball historical past and dozens of NCAA groups based mostly there, Atlanta is the place Charles needed to be, getting his foot within the door. Inside three years, he had utilized for greater than 500 basketball jobs, however was seldom heard of. The shortage of a steady earnings in a metropolis he barely knew, and the rejection and heartbreak that got here with it, took its toll.

I used to be away from my household, I used to be away from my mates. I did not have any cash. My profession did not appear to have any legs on the time. “I did not know the place to go subsequent,” stated Charles. “Individuals who do not train do not perceive. (They’re going to say) Go get an everyday job. Perhaps I might try this, however would it not make me completely happy?”

Philadelphia 76ers entrance workplace supervisor Prosper Karangua would not keep in mind how Charles received his quantity however in some way he did, in search of recommendation. On the time, Karangwa was a scout with the Orlando Magic. Charles known as after discovering his e-mail tackle on the Web.

“I combed by all of the directories of the NBA personnel, and I will begin with the ticket particular person. His e-mail will probably be posted to the ticket particular person and you may take the format of the ticket particular person. The scout particular person, basic supervisor, tools supervisor—whoever it’s—can have the identical e-mail tackle because the ticket particular person.”

“It took me some time to determine that out, however trial and error,” laughed Charles.

Hardly ever did anybody reply to Charles and his requests, however Karangua was a fellow Canadian and represented Canada on the 2002 FIBA ​​World Cup and the 2003 Americas. He was keen to assist one other Canadian and inspired Charles not to surrender, and to use for a job with the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA – a job he was trying ahead to. , however he was reluctant to pursue it for concern of one other rejection.

“I keep in mind telling him the toughest factor to do on this enterprise is get in. When you get in, it creates your individual path and alternative,” Karangwa stated. “My recommendation to him was: In the event you actually need this, if that is one thing you need to do, do not quit. Hold shifting ahead.”

The 2 constructed a robust bond and Charles ended up as an apprentice with the dream. He remembers being in Toronto when he received the information—one of many final instances he was on the town—earlier than coaching started. He wasn’t paid on the time, however he did not care.

“I stated to myself if you get your probability, balls to the wall,” Charles stated. “I used to be keen to do something to make it occur.”

Travis Charles, right, celebrates starring in the Conference Finals with the Atlanta Dream in 2013 alongside Kaminsky Bryson, who managed basketball operations with the team and assisted Charles early in his career.

For a 12 months, he labored 85 to 90 hours every week and barely left the world, sleeping on a apply desk and utilizing towels as a blanket. To at the present time, nearly nobody is aware of he was doing it. Most days, Charles would end work at 2am and must be again at 6am, so it made sense for him to sleep within the yard as an alternative of coping with Atlanta site visitors.

The yard additionally had every little thing he wanted, from limitless snacks and meals to cable TV. His evening was basketball, a bathe, and 4 hours of sleep to be his first and final evening on the job.

“Rising up the place I grew up in Scarborough, it was nearly no matter you needed to be aggressive,” stated Charles. “From Victoria Park, my boys and I rode our bikes to the SkyDome simply to see who might do it first, for no motive. That is earlier than cell telephones. Mother and father are going loopy. It was all love, nevertheless it was very aggressive, that space; competitors (was born).”

Jermaine Small, the lads’s basketball coach on the College of Lethbridge, grew up with Charles and stated his competitiveness had light. He remembers how Charles would get mates to trip their bikes to the opposite finish of city to play different basketball abilities.

“He was very aggressive,” stated Small. “He is the type of man who needs to be one of the best. He would not accept second, third, or something like that. If he does one thing, he needs to be one of the best at it.”

Charles will settle for any task — establishing the courtroom, washing and rebounding, serving to gamers apply, scouting, chopping the tape and watching assistant coaches — no questions requested. His work didn’t go unnoticed. The pinnacle coach on the time, Fred Williams, introduced him in as a basketball operations assistant for the subsequent 12 months.

Their relationship blossomed to the purpose the place Williams accepted a head teaching job with the Tulsa Shock after he left her at Atlanta, and supplied Charles a job as a video coordinator. Within the subsequent few years, Charles tasted nearly each job as Tulsa’s WNBA workforce moved to Dallas in 2016. He was director of basketball logistics for just a few seasons, and even an assistant coach for a part of a 12 months.

This got here as no shock to Kareem Griffin, an in depth pal of W.J Toronto ladies’s basketball champion, When he heard that Charles was seeking to transfer into the administration facet and get extra concerned within the decision-making course of.

Griffin visited Charles when he was an apprentice in Atlanta, and he remembers how he at all times envisioned managing a workforce.

“Fred Williams gave him the chance and he by no means regarded again,” stated Griffin. “He is residing his dream, and phrases cannot even describe the sensation. That is my brother.”

Last August, Travis Charles was named Vice President of Basketball Operations and Assistant General Manager of the WNBA's Dallas Wings.

In 2019, Charles continued to rise within the Wings group, turning into Director of Basketball Operations. Two years later, he was promoted to senior supervisor, and this previous August was named vice chairman of basketball operations and assistant basic supervisor.

Charles helps handle free company selections and hires – together with the Wings’ new head coach Latricia Tramell.

He additionally attends league conferences, as he isn’t the one Canadian within the room. He is one in all solely a handful of black executives within the WNBA – although that quantity is rising. The league acquired an A for its racial and gender practices in 2022, in line with the annual report from the Institute for Variety and Ethics in Sport. The variety of blacks in positions from vice chairman upwards rose 5.2 proportion factors to 22.4 p.c in 2022.

The largely unknown basketball thoughts from Scarborough has saved fairly a low profile throughout his basketball journey, however he now not thinks that is vital. Charles now feels a way of accountability to indicate others that what he has achieved is feasible.

He has plans to begin a scholarship with Paris Media Group in Toronto, which does neighborhood outreach work, to assist younger folks making an attempt out for basketball in the US. He additionally hopes to do some motivational talking.

“Consider me once I say this: If I can do it, anybody can do it… You simply should attempt to have a dream, have a imaginative and prescient, after which observe by.”

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