Amidst being a mother, grandmother, teacher and former athlete, Evelyn Magley has made history by becoming the first African-American woman to own a professional sports league. But, who is Evelyn Magley and what league does she own?
Evelyn hails from Kansas City, Kansas. Early on, she developed a knack for community involvement. As a teen, she frequently held a neighborhood choir of children and adults of around 50 people. She would play the piano as her entire neighborhood gathered to witness her melodious voice.
During her fundamental years of schooling, she remained involved in athletics and music. But, it was her talents as a track athlete that afforded her the opportunity to attend the University of Kansas on a track scholarship. Unfortunately, she found out she had sickle cell traits, sidelining her from participating in running track. Thus, she dug deeper and focused on a Music Education degree and decided to get a second degree in Music Therapy.
During her time in college, she spent every summer working at the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline in the Accounting department. She also interned at the Rainbow Mental Health Facility in Kansas City. She worked with abused children, using music therapy as a tool to teach life skills and heal emotional and psychological wounds.
After some time, she met David Magley, who was equipped with quite the athletic resume. He played basketball for the University of Kansas, was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and at one point in his career, played under legendary NBA coach, Phil Jackson. Eventually, the pair married and Evelyn learned how the game was taught by observing the interaction of the players.
After a career in basketball, they began raising a family and moved to Bradenton, Florida. Evelyn became a music teacher and David the head basketball coach at Bradenton Christian School. Evelyn was the first African-American teacher at this school, the first paradigm broken in her career. When she arrived, the program had a total of nine students involved in the secondary music program which was confined to a trailer outside of the school. Thirteen years later, over 90 percent of the student body was involved, and the pro- gram had become a multi-million-dollar function.
Afterwards, the two moved to Canada, where David began his professional coaching career with the Brampton A’s of the NBL Canada while Evelyn became the Community at Heart Outreach Director. It is here where Evelyn and David came up with the idea of a basketball league that serves the community. Two years later David became the Commissioner of the National Basketball League of Canada. He remained there until, he and Evelyn decided to officially establish their own professional league. While brainstorming names for the league the Magley’s daughter, Jennifer made a suggestion to, “keep things simple.” Thus, TBL was birthed.
What is TBL?
The Basketball League (TBL) is a new professional basketball league with 11 teams in the United States that will make its debut in the 2019 season. TBL’s motto is, “Where the Spirit of the Game Lives.” The league has a passion for helping the communities in which the teams are located and focuses on the development of its players.
The Basketball League aims to offer both players and communities something different. Evelyn said, “The Basketball League is about much more than just basketball, the primary driver is serving our communities.” Evelyn further discussed the importance of a prospective athlete’s character plays in their success in the league. She stated, “We will be sending these young men into schools, community events, etc. We don’t want to sign players who just show up to practice, play their games and cash their check. It’s about acting as a role model for the next generation; being a positive influence in the community.”
As a different league, TBL intends to differentiate itself through community involvement and creativity. A few of those differentials include: players reading to younger children, hosting basketball camps for teens and speaking in school-wide assemblies about substance abuse, anti-bullying and staying in school. The league looks to encourage a family-friendly environment at their games with many games taking place inside local schools, frequent family event nights and the “Hope Zone”. The Hope Zone is an area in each TBL arena where children with serious or terminal illnesses, invite friends and family for an evening of entertainment and fun. TBL will also serve as a more financially feasible option for families looking to spend time together on a budget. Families will be able to attend a professional basketball game, get snacks and drinks all for the price of one NBA ticket. TBL’s philosophy reaches beyond its teams and communities, as the way players are treated plays a big role in the success of the league. “The talent pool for professional basketball is practically limitless,” says President David Magley.
He continued, “We have thousands of guys chomping at the bit to earn their spot on a roster and we want to reward them for their hard work. Of course, we pay them, but we want to prepare them for the next step. We provide our athletes with training on how to manage their finances, offer advice on how to develop their character and show them the importance of service. If they end up getting an offer to play for a league that can pay them better, then we will wish them the best and release them from their contract.”
Tentatively, the league is planning to develop a total of 60 teams by the 2025 season. As Evelyn continues to trail-blaze her own path, a different league for basketball and professional sports, is certainly on the horizon.