Back in 2015, Kayla Crosby introduced the Jamestown Jackals and #IntegrityFirst, Inc., a non-profit organization, to the local community with the intention of positively impacting lives through the game of basketball and bringing affordable, family-friendly entertainment to professional basketball fans throughout the region.
It seems like her plan has come to fruition.
Crosby, the team market owner, and current general manager of the Jackals has been at the helm of the organization for five seasons. Now, despite the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, her and her staff are preparing for the team’s sixth season overall.
Currently, the Jamestown Jackals are a member of The Basketball League, a league that is professional in that all its players are paid a fair wage and all teams play the same number of games. Minimum standards are maintained for ownership finances, venue size, live-streaming, stats, social media, and community service. The league has expanded and now features more than 30 teams nationwide.
In addition to her responsibilities with the Jackals, Crosby serves as the director of team development for The Basketball League.
According to Crosby, The Basketball League is discussing pushing back the start of its season to April. It usually starts in January. The Jackals are tentatively scheduled to open up training camp around March. The goal is for a normal 24-game schedule with 12 contests at home and 12 on the road.
“The hope is that we can figure out some stuff with COVID and make sure that everyone is safe, get all of our venues open and then play the regular 24-game season starting in April,” Crosby said. “The league’s been doing extensive expansion the last few months and so he big goal is to have different pods so that teams only have local travel instead of having to worry about flights and going too far and expanding the budget too much.”
Crosby mentioned that Jamestown’s “pod” could feature the Albany Patroons, who won the league championship in 2019. It could also include the Syracuse Stallions, the Dayton Flight, the Columbus Condors, the Detroit Hustle, and the Flint United.
With all the strict protocols and guidelines to follow due to the coronavirus, preparing for the upcoming season has presented a unique challenge for Crosby, and it has certainly been a team effort. She was quick to credit all of those who help the Jackals, from the fans, to volunteers and staff who work and operate behind the scenes.
Maceo Wofford, a former all-state guard at Jamestown High School and student-athlete at Division I Iona College, has helped run tryouts along with other responsibilities over the years.
The Jackals’ board members are an integral part of the team’s success. The board consists of Patrick Green, Kristin Lee Yaw, Bill Soffel, Jody Marsh, Rich Hartmann, Crosby, Nina Bell, Tamara Dickey and Gary Lynn. A fundraising committee has been established to help secure donations and sponsorships and that includes Sheron Grijalva, Jeff Holt, Cheryl Wascher and Alan Jones.
“I never really had an idea of what I was getting into,” Crosby said. “I never had any intention of it growing so big. (At the time back in 2015) we were starting a semi-pro organization. We were not going to offer paychecks to the players or anything. And yet, we have just continued to grow. Our fan base has been wonderful. The amount of volunteers that we have for game day and. … the different businesses and individuals who have made donations and sponsorships (has been pivotal). … Somehow different people have stepped up each and every season so that we’ve paid all of our bills, and the players the past two years have gotten their paychecks on time for the correct amount that they’ve been contracted for. … I think my favorite part has been just hearing about the stories from different community members of their relationships with the players and how the players have impacted their children and their own personal lives.”
Crosby said that since the Jackals’ inception, the team has had more than 65 different players from 22 different states and five different countries ranging in age from 20-40.
Even though things may look a little different for the team’s sixth season, Crosby cannot wait to get things started once again.
“It’s (been) so rough not being able to be in the gym,” she emphasized. “… I love basketball. I started this for my friends and community members to give everyone something to be apart of. But I have realized that this is my lifeline, too. And I absolutely love everything that it brings and all the people who I’ve been able to meet and interact with. I’ll just keep praying that things are able to open back up and everyone is able to stay safe and continue to do what we love.”