Canada’s youngest NBA player agent returns to the province

Leawood leads the way for basketball in Newfoundland and Labrador

Stacey Leawood has prior coaching experience with the MUN Seahawks. This weekend she will be behind the bench when the Newfoundland Rogues play their first pair of games in American Basketball Association. Nicholas Conway/Kicker

Nicholas Conway

Professional basketball returns to the island this weekend as the Newfoundland Rogues tip-off their season.

The newly named Mary Brown’s Centre will play host to 30 games over the next four months. While players like Luke Doyle and Myles Charvis will dazzle fans, one of the biggest stars will be on the bench, giving instructions.

Stacey Leawood made history this year by becoming Canada’s youngest NBA player agent at just 24 years old. After working as the director of player personnel for the Guelph Nighthawks of the Canadian Elite Basketball League over the summer, a mutual friend who wanted to play for the Rogues approached Leawood. Once she established contact with head coach Jerry Williams and owner Tony Kenny, an unexpected return to the rock was confirmed.

“I reached out to them about salary cap stuff; the things I’m used to (dealing with as) an agent,” Leawood said. “Through our conversation they realized that I might be a pretty good fit to help coach the team but also help with team operations.”

Head coach Jerry Williams was the first person in the organization to respond to Leawood with information on how the league works. The two only meant to discuss potential players to bring to the team, but once Kenny received Leawood’s contact information, the team acted fast and offered her a position just hours later.

“I didn’t know her, she didn’t know me,” said Williams with good-hearted laugh.

“I didn’t choose this career path to inspire people. I chose it because it was something I wanted to do.”

Williams has nothing but praise for Leawood and her work as an assistant coach so far.

“She’s doing everything I could ask for in an assistant coach,” Williams said. “She’s wonderful. It’s the best decision Tony could have made.”

Jerry Williams worked with the Jacksonville Giants of the American Basketball Association as a head coach before coming to Newfoundland and Labrador. The Giants have won seven of the past nine championships. Nicholas Conway/Kicker

Using her wealth of basketball experience and knowledge, Leawood is defying gender stereotypes that still plague the world of sports. Being a woman in a predominantly male-dominated industry such as professional basketball hasn’t stopped her from realizing her dream.

“I think it’s more of a competitive advantage more so than a negative thing,” Leawood said. “In the entertainment industry, whether it’s basketball or otherwise, everybody is doing something to try and be different and I don’t have to try to be anybody. I just have to be myself.”

Women’s representation in basketball is a growing trend. There are now seven female assistant coaches in the NBA.

“(Being a trailblazer) isn’t something I ever thought about,” said Leawood.

But, she says, it’s a nice reminder of what she has accomplished.

“I didn’t choose this career path to inspire people. I chose it because it was something I wanted to do.”

The Newfoundland Rogues begin their season this weekend at the Mary Brown’s Centre as they take on New York State’s Elmira Eagles in a two-game home stand. The tip off is at 7 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday.



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