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,” mentioned Charles. “You stroll into my workplace, the very first thing you see is the Canadian flag. You possibly can’t see it.”
If that wasn’t sufficient, Charles makes positive to inform anybody who bothers to pay attention that he is from Scarborough. It is the place he calls house and the place a hearth was planted to make him the WNBA govt he’s right now.
As a result of the job requires time all 12 months lengthy, Charles has been away from house so lengthy that he nonetheless refers to Scotiabank Enviornment because the Air Canada Heart, and to him, the Rogers Heart will without end be often known as the SkyDome. Charles is already making ready for the following Wings season, set to start in Could, 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 numerous elements of Scarborough, dividing time between his dad and mom’ houses on Victoria Park Avenue and Lawrence Avenue East, and Nelson Avenue and Shepherd Avenue East. He can bear in mind taking part in for Scarborough Street Runners as a child. He now makes vital choices and supplies entrance workplace recommendation for the WNBA.
However earlier than Charles’ rise to govt positions, his determination to play basketball largely left him out of a job for years. With out understanding 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 underneath a sports activities company, he moved to Atlanta in 2009 with hopes of moving 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 attainable. Recognized for its wealthy basketball historical past and dozens of NCAA groups based mostly there, Atlanta is the place Charles wished 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 dearth of a secure revenue 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 pals. 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,” mentioned Charles. “Individuals who do not train do not perceive. (They’re going to say) Go get an everyday job. Possibly I might try this, however would it not make me pleased?”
Philadelphia 76ers entrance workplace supervisor Prosper Karangua would not bear in mind how Charles received his quantity however someway he did, searching for 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 means of all of the directories of the NBA personnel, and I am going to begin with the ticket particular person. His e mail can be posted to the ticket particular person and you will take the format of the ticket particular person. The scout particular person, basic supervisor, gear supervisor—whoever it’s—may 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.
Not often 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 wanting ahead to. , however he was reluctant to pursue it for concern of one other rejection.
“I bear in mind telling him the toughest factor to do on this enterprise is get in. When you get in, it creates your personal path and alternative,” Karangwa mentioned. “My recommendation to him was: For those who really need this, if that is one thing you need to do, do not hand over. Preserve transferring 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 occasions he was on the town—earlier than coaching started. He wasn’t paid on the time, however he did not care.
“I mentioned to myself once you get your likelihood, balls to the wall,” Charles mentioned. “I used to be keen to do something to make it occur.”
For a 12 months, he labored 85 to 90 hours per week and barely left the sector, sleeping on a observe desk and utilizing towels as a blanket. To at the present time, virtually 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 a substitute of coping with Atlanta site visitors.
The yard additionally had every little thing he wanted, from limitless snacks and meals to cable TV. His night time was basketball, a bathe, and 4 hours of sleep to be his first and final night time on the job.
“Rising up the place I grew up in Scarborough, it was nearly no matter you wished to be aggressive,” mentioned Charles. “From Victoria Park, my boys and I rode our bikes to the SkyDome simply to see who might do it first, for no purpose. That is earlier than cell telephones. Dad and mom are going loopy. It was all love, however 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 mentioned his competitiveness had pale. He remembers how Charles would get pals to trip their bikes to the opposite finish of city to play different basketball abilities.
“He was very aggressive,” mentioned Small. “He is the sort of man who desires to be the very best. He would not accept second, third, or something like that. If he does one thing, he desires to be the very best at it.”
Charles will settle for any project — organising the courtroom, washing and rebounding, serving to gamers observe, scouting, chopping the tape and watching assistant coaches — no questions requested. His work didn’t go unnoticed. The top coach on the time, Fred Williams, introduced him in as a basketball operations assistant for the following 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 a number of seasons, and even an assistant coach for a part of a 12 months.
This got here as no shock to Kareem Griffin, a detailed good friend of W.J Toronto girls’s basketball champion, When he heard that Charles was trying 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,” mentioned Griffin. “He is dwelling his dream, and phrases cannot even describe the sensation. That is my brother.”
In 2019, Charles continued to rise within the Wings group, changing 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 choices 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 every of 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 % in 2022.
The largely unknown basketball thoughts from Scarborough has stored fairly a low profile throughout his basketball journey, however he now not thinks that is vital. Charles now feels a way of duty to indicate others that what he has achieved is feasible.
He has plans to start out a scholarship with Paris Media Group in Toronto, which does group outreach work, to assist younger individuals attempting 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 must attempt to have a dream, have a imaginative and prescient, after which comply with by means of.”
Be a part of the dialog