Former Sea-Hawks basketball player excited and determined to excel in business arena
Austin Chambers arrived on the Memorial University campus in 2014, a 20-year-old basketball recruit from Ajax, Ont., who would make his mark as a solid role player on the Sea-Hawks’ varsity team.
Now, five years later and his Sea-Hawks’ career in the books, Chambers looks to carve his niche into another aspect of basketball — in the sports apparel business.
Chambers, now 25, is the founder and CEO of Elevate Athletic Development, a local clothing company he actually started back in 2014.
Through his company, Chambers is a familiar face on the local high school and minor hoops circuit in the city, and he hopes to eventually grow the brand right across the country.
Chambers, who is still a part-time student at Memorial, started out small enough, working with young players on their basketball skills in the summer while he was playing varsity.
But in addition to the dribbling, passing and shooting, Chambers also stressed to his young students the power of positive thinking.
“It’s not all about playing,” he said. “It’s about working hard in practice and games, and believing in yourself.”
As part of his instruction, Chambers would often film sessions and post them on YouTube. Eventually, he decided to come up with a logo that would be embedded in the video.
“Next thing you know, people started tell me they liked the logo, liked the message of hard work and belief in oneself and wondered if I’d be putting it on any clothing,” he said. “It started from there.”
Chambers found himself a manufacturer — he has the final say on all designs and styles — and Elevate Athletics was born.
“Elevate certainly has a basketball association, but it also stands for rising and uplifting.
“I’m now more passionate about inspiring people than playing (basketball),” he said.
The sports apparel business is a competitive one, and Chambers is a little fish in a great big pond filled with the likes of Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Champion.
“The owners of those companies had to believe in themselves at some point,” Chambers said. “I don’t see why it can’t be done here.”
Chambers isn’t able to do it alone. He receives a lot of help from friends, many of whom are fellow athletes like karate champions Christopher Coady and Samantha Au, and Emma Hackett of the Sea-Hawks’ volleyball team.
Business, Chambers said, has been steady. November, he said, was “huge” with a pre-Christmas rush on orders, and his orders each month seem to surpass the previous month’s.
His big focus, obviously, is the local basketball scene. During many tournaments in and around the St. John’s area, Chambers will often set up a table displaying his merchandise.
“I’m always working on getting my name out there,” he said. “I want to be as big a presence as possible in the basketball community.”
On May 11 at Holy Heart gym, Chambers is establishing the first high school all-star basketball weekend, with boys and girls all-star games.
The teams, comprised of the best high school basketball players in the province, were selected from a poll of players and coaches.
“I have no problem aiming for the top,” Chambers said. “I want Newfoundland to have the biggest Canadian clothing brand in the country.”