Posted by Sue Jones on Sep 23, 2019
Pictured (l to r):  Lindsey Alday, DeMarcus Oliver - Jackals GM, Kayla Crosby - Jackals Owner, President Cheri Krull
 
Kayla Crosby is originally from Russell, PA. She first came to Jamestown on a basketball scholarship to play at Jamestown Community College, where she was fortunate enough to have Lindsey Alday as her roommate. After a great experience at JCC, including the women’s basketball team winning the Region III Championship in 2010, Kayla transferred to St. Bonaventure University where she received 7 teaching certifications. The summer after graduating, Kayla began working as a Residence Director at JCC and is currently the Director of Campus Life at JCC on the Jamestown Campus and the North County Extension Center.
 
While working at JCC, Kayla came up with the plans to start a nonprofit organization and professional minor league men’s basketball team. After playing in semi-pro basketball leagues for 3 years, the Jamestown Jackals joined a new professional basketball league last season. For the first time, the players and coach were compensated for their outreach and mentoring in the community and received paychecks, housing, and professional caliber basketball games across the United States.
 
During their first season in the Basketball League, Kayla received the Herb Ellis Executive of the year award for overall community engagement efforts and professionalism on and off the court. This summer, the basketball league has announced the hiring of Kayla as the league’s new director of team development.  
 
During her first semester working as a Residence Director at JCC, Kayla wrote many incident reports for drinking and smoking. Her reprimands were not making any difference. She heard from her supervisor that the students felt that she was “stalking” them. When she talked with the students about this and their misbehavior, they told her there was nothing for them to do in Jamestown. She went to work and discussed with the College keeping the gym open later in the evenings and on weekends. She began hosting “open Gyms” where students could play dodge ball and kickball.
 
The students asked if they could invite Maceo Wofford (known to them as the “legend of Jamestown basketball”) to give them some pointers on the game. Kayla reached out to Wofford and he agreed to come. There was an immediate difference in the students’ demeanor when Maceo and his fellow team mates mentored the younger JCC students.
 
Wofford tried out for the Erie Hurricanes in 2014 and for 3 years played in the Premier Basketball League. Maceo encouraged Kayla to “Own a Team” and become a part of the new Basketball League, who in addition to playing good basketball, brought fulltime positive role models to young people.
 
Kayla took her power point to her parents, who said while they admired her desire to do this, they would not be a part of it. Kayla decided to take on the project herself – she got the League’s Owner’s Manual and read it three times, discussing many points with the league commissioner. She talked with the Mayor of Jamestown and Ron Graham, the co-founder of Chautauqua Striders, about starting an educational not-for-profit.
 
She attended seminars and workshops and met an attorney specializing in non-profits. Kayla decided to have faith and start a team. She held tryouts and the first year, the team made the playoffs. The team was in survival mode that first year. The young men wanted to stay in Jamestown after that first year but there was no housing. By that time, Kayla was Director of Campus Life and facilitated a grant for team housing at JCC by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.
 
By the end of the second season, she had secured housing at the Goodell Estate on Fairmount Avenue.
 
Season three saw the team win the Northeast Championship of The Basketball League. Their whole focus is to be a different league and that means community. The players are in schools every day and are in churches every night. Kayla is proud of her vision and what it has become, #IntegrityFirst, Inc., a non-profit organization with the vision of “positively impacting lives through the game of basketball and helping individuals develop their potential  and achieve success by fostering integrity, motivation, responsibility, hope, perseverance, confidence, and sportsmanship.”. The Jamestown Jackals, one of the teams of TBL is used to support that mission.
 
Kayla is turning over the General Manager duties to DeMarcus Q. Oliver, formerly the assistant coach of the Raleigh Firebirds, has 15 years of coaching experience, a background in sales and, “a heart for impacting lives.” Oliver will help establish sponsorships and expand the Jackals’ connections in the community. When team tryouts begin, he will assist with recruitment and setting up the structure for the 2020 season.
 
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