Kayon Mayers, the founder of The North Way, is a young entrepreneur and basketball player development specialist devoted to developing and providing guidance to Canadian basketball players at all levels. He is a spokesperson for Canadian athletes who are often overlooked and underestimated by basketball industry professionals. I got connected with Kayon from a former interviewee of mine and a client of his, some of you may remember Meshack Lufile from my article The Lufile Way: Canada’s Antetokounmpo Brothers. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with him about how his career has developed after his playing career was cut short in college due to injury. Check out what Kayon had to say about what he’s been doing for the Canadian basketball community!
The interview with Kayon Mayers was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.
Before we begin, give us a little update on how your job has changed since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
COVID-19 has changed a lot for me, as you know I work as a basketball coach. My company and I work directly with players, coaches and our community. Before COVID shut down everything, we had a number of programs ready for launch. Unfortunately, the virus showed us how little control we have of our lives. Like most businesses we were forced to adapt, we took our focus online and launched a podcast by the name of “The Free Game Podcast”, it also allowed us to become well rounded and up to date. The time off due to the virus has allowed us to reevaluate ourselves as individuals and as a company.
Tell us about your role as the Founder of the The North Way.
I am a former collegiate athlete with a lot of experience playing the game of basketball. I played my high school ball in Boston and college basketball in Nova Scotia. I have seen a lot of high-level talent and I have met a lot of people who work in the NBA. Given that experience, I have used it to help the next generation of Canadian basketball players develop their game.
I founded The North Way as a platform to help grow Canadian basketball talent. Growing up in Canada I saw that Canadians have always been underestimated and overlooked. A lot of improvements have been made but there is still a lot of room for improvement. We need more Canadians playing high level basketball once their college careers are done.
The North Way offers a unique blend of elite skills training and education. We prepare and train all of our student athletes like pros and our pro athletes like NBA players. We are constantly pushing athletes to reach their potential. We also prepare our athletes for life after basketball by exposing them to industry professionals and potential careers in the basketball industry off the court that they can thrive in.
What does a typical day look like for you?
On a day to day basis I’m constantly working on ways to master our brand, improve our communication with our customer base and plan events after the virus. I’m learning how much detail it takes to be great at what you do, I’m also learning patience. It’s so hard to be patient nowadays because you’re either up to date or you’re behind, so there’s constant pressure online, the only way to be successful is to plan ahead. With that said, the current time off has forced me to slow down and not take a day for granted.
When was the point you realized that you were meant to do this career? Take us through that realization.
Although my career ended prematurely, I still had a passion for the game of basketball and a desire to be around the game. I’m not sure, the exact moment that was but I did do a lot of trial and error, and no matter what I tried, nothing gave me the same joy basketball did. So I came back to the game with some new skills and a different perspective, I’m here to serve instead of compete.
I wanted a career around the game because I’m passionate about the game and I am creative, so it only made sense to merge my creativity and passion for the game.
I grew up predominantly playing basketball, I dabbled in soccer and my mother would not let me play football. Growing up I idolized Sam Cassell, Vince Carter and Michael Jordan, I loved the way they played the game.
What’s your favourite part about working in the sports industry?
My favourite part about working in the sports industry is helping people realize their dream. Knowing I’m a part of something bigger than me is gratifying.
What is(are) the biggest challenge(s) you have faced in your career so far?
The biggest challenges I’ve faced in my career to date are self-doubt & patience. I’m really hard on myself so sometimes that can get in my way. I set high standards for myself but I try to build Rome in a day. But I’m my weakness, I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I can improve as a person.
What is your biggest career accomplishment so far? What are your goals?
I think my biggest accomplishment I’ve had so far is the interview I recently shot. We interviewed Omar Shiddo who is a U-Sports star at the University of Western. It wasn’t the fact that it did a lot of numbers, it was the fact that I set a goal and it came out exactly how I wanted it. My goal is to build a company that will allow me to quit my job and work a career I’m in love with.
Who is your role model and why?
My biggest role models are Mark Cuban & Harry Ezenibe, they’re high achievers, but more importantly they’re humble, down to earth, they tell the truth and give back to their community.
Stacey's Final Thoughts
It was so refreshing to get to speak with Kayon who has a great focus on Canadian basketball athletes. He’s right. Canadians are sometimes overlooked and underestimated in the basketball world; We both felt it first hand, through his playing days as well as mine as a recruited prospect in Women’s high school basketball. It’s so nice to see someone working tirelessly to advocate, develop and prepare Canadian basketball athletes. I look forward to seeing what the future brings for Kayon!