Broncos’ assistant coach wants to impact the “global community”
BY ALEX PODLOGAR - FSU SPORTS INFORMATION
FAYETTEVILLE, NC – Ten-year-old Jay Maynard could’ve beaten any of them. It wouldn’t have been close.
In soccer. And in baseball.
But not basketball.
“I was originally a soccer player, and I was very good at that,” Maynard, 29, assistant men’s basketball coach at Fayetteville State, recalls now. “But I discovered basketball one day, and kids would tease me, ‘Oh you can’t play basketball.’ I guess because I was black, I was supposed to know how to play basketball. But I couldn’t play basketball at all.”
So Maynard ditched soccer. He ditched baseball. Right then and there.
And he took up basketball, just because it was something he couldn’t do.
“Soccer was easy, but I decided to quit soccer, to quit baseball, which I was very good at, and play basketball – this game I could never play,” he says. “That’s how I discovered basketball – it was a challenge.”
Choosing basketball changed nothing, but it meant everything.
“It’s so easy to succumb to a ‘woe is me’ attitude and eventually conform to the miserable normalcy of being mediocre and satisfied with the status quo. What a chore it is, sometimes, to overcome the oppression of contentment and comfort to rebel against the norm!” -- junecaniel.wordpress.com, Nov. 24, 2010
Jay Maynard was born in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. He was the fifth child of his mother. His father had two more children after him. By his count, Maynard believes he has “about 10” siblings.
What life could the young Jay Maynard look forward to? He had heard all the stories, seen the worst things any child could possibly see. Was that going to be his route? Was that going to be his life?
Somehow, Maynard knew it didn’t have to be that way. “I can just remember being a kid and saying ‘I want to be great,’” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but it sounds strange coming out of a child’s mouth.”
But how could greatness spring from this place? Island streets are hard, and Maynard’s may have been even harder. Greatness needs care. It needs cultivation. Where could Maynard find the fertile, lush soil that would enable his vision to grow and soar beyond the dark street corners and into the sky and beyond?
“I saw a lot of strength in my parents. I saw a lot of struggle -- my dad being thrown into a dumpster when he was 4, having a sixth-grade education, my mom overcoming a lot of difficult things – but they never made excuses in life,” Maynard says. “It showed me I could forge my way in life and do whatever I wanted to do just through their strength. The ironic part is that people meet me and think I came from this great family. Well, I feel like I did, but it’s not their definition of what ‘great’ would be.”
Maynard’s sister, Florence, saw the opportunity in her youngest brother. She got off the island, joined the U.S. Navy, and eventually was stationed in San Francisco. Then she really got to work, taking the steps to adopt Maynard and bring him to the United States.
“There’s not a lot to do in the Islands where I’m from. It’s really rough. A lot of deaths,” says Maynard. “(My sister) wanted to give me the opportunity to do something with my life. She felt like if I stayed there, I’d probably end being a drug dealer or doing something really bad. I can’t blame them. I was exposed to crack cocaine when I was 4.”
And exposed to basketball in San Francisco.
“As I look into the eyes of our youth, I see hope. I see people who want to be great. I have discovered that no one really wants to be mediocre. I have observed adults that go through the motions and kids act as if they do not care. I realize everyone cares if they are given a reason.” -- junecaniel.wordpress.com, Nov. 21, 2010
Jay Maynard is in constant motion. He always has something to do, to work on, to build. Even in the most mundane situations, Maynard is a seeker. He enjoys random conversations with people he doesn’t know. He says he might learn something new. In fact, he believes he will always learn something new. Every time. So why slow down? Why would you ever want to stop when there is so much more you can do, or learn, or experience?
And so like soccer and baseball before, basketball came to Maynard. Of course it did. He wouldn’t allow anything otherwise. He excelled on the hardwood after moving with his sister’s family to Jacksonville, NC, when he was a sophomore in high school. It came as no surprise to Maynard, who befriended a custodian at his high school who would open the gym at 4 a.m. so Maynard could work on his game.
“I was always geared to prove people wrong,” he says. “People would always make comments, even family members, ‘Oh, you can’t do that. You can’t do this.’ And those kinds of things drive me. I always say, ‘I didn’t need any extra fuel, but since you supplied it, thank you.”
He took a scholarship to play for former Fayetteville State coach Rick Duckett at Winston-Salem State. Five years, two CIAA Championships, 192 3-pointers (second all-time at WSSU), a spot on the U.S. Virgin Islands Olympic team at the Tournament of Americas, and a few degrees later, Maynard was on his way.
“Coach Duckett was really an instrumental leader at the time – he was a great coach who had won back-to-back CIAA Championships – but he taught a lot about being a man and giving back,” says Maynard.
Maynard always gives back -- he’s started nonprofit organizations, mentors people of all ages and spends time at shelters not only helping to feed the homeless, but designing workshops to boost self-awareness and self-worth. He’s been writing since storing away journals when he was in the sixth grade. He and his wife Tiya blog often at http://junecaniel.wordpress.com
But Maynard looked to education as his vehicle to help others.
Education – and basketball.
“As I look around in the world I see adults who have turned their backs on you. Probably the reason they build more jails, and allow the worst professionals to work around you. Why do they give you the worst coaches, teachers, administrators, social workers, etc? I ask myself, why? They surround you with trash and expect you to pull yourself up.” -- junecaniel.wordpress.com, Oct. 8, 2010
Maynard has seen the worst in societies, but sees the good in people. He understands the hardships many face, issues and problems that can prompt the most devastating of downward spirals. And yet he sees a way out even for those caught in the harrowing center of that vortex. Especially for them.
This isn’t about some view of the world through rose-colored glasses. It’s a belief Maynard has always had, since those early days when he felt something inside of him that needed to get out. Through five years of teaching, including a stint as a vice principal at Selma Middle School – all before he turned 27 – Maynard believes he could see that special something in every person in every walk of life.
It is that belief that fuels Maynard’s most recent project – Jun E Caniel, a business begun by his wife, Tiya. In form, Jun E Caniel is a line of limited edition apparel and accessories made from eco-friendly and/or recycled materials and designed by Maynard and Tiya.
That’s what one can touch and feel and wear. Jun E Caniel, though, is much more. Maynard writes that it was created “to encourage artistic expression and social activism, under the belief that global change can be brought about by altering others’ thoughts through key words and phrases. Uplifting and positive phrases and graphics are featured as a means of inspiration to others.”
“Our logo is a lion,” Maynard explains. “We’re about challenging people to realize their lion within by realizing their own greatness and power. ‘Jun E’ means ‘great.’ We want them to become social activists and to freely express themselves. We encourage artistic and intellectual freedom as well as social responsibility.
“We feel like everyone has this lion inside of them, and you can find it if you just take enough time to tap into it. That’s really where the gold is. The gold never lies within another entity. It’s within ourselves. The other entities help us shape that, and we can use that, but when we realize what we do and what we do well, there’s nothing that can stop us.
“I’m a firm believer in that everybody has something he or she can do so well that no one else can touch. And that’s what we’re trying to tap into – to unleash that lion within themselves.”
And Maynard has, among others, at least one thing he does exceptionally well.
“Let’s build teams! Let’s build teams that will allow us to accomplish things and give life to others. Let’s be brave enough to pick up clay and mold it.” -- junecaniel.wordpress.com, Nov. 21, 2010
Maynard was a high school head basketball coach at Clay High School in Green Cove Springs, FL. But he was on the fast track in education administration. And he was about to move to Philadelphia to accept a director of education job. Big raise. Big money.
Big impact? Maybe, but maybe not.
Fayetteville State head coach Alphonza Kee, who coached Maynard as an assistant at WSSU, called and asked Maynard to join his staff with the Broncos. The salary, though, couldn’t compare to Maynard’s other option.
But the opportunity couldn’t compare, either.
“I had worked with middle school and high school kids,” Maynard says. “But I had never worked with young people in college. This was the most important step.”
Maynard came to Fayetteville.
“The opportunities to learn prompts each stop,” Maynard says about the moves in his life. “You take jobs to learn, not necessarily for what you will earn. Taking those different jobs helped shape what I needed to better, whether it was leadership, whether it was handling finances, whether it was people, whether it was a different area. Those were all different learning opportunities.”
“I often think about my final hours. I imagine myself lying in that cold hospital room with a crowd of people looking at me. It’s funny, at no time do money, cars, houses, women, hobbies, or enemies come to mind. I think about giving all to humanity. Did I leave anything in my frail body? Did I greatly improve the global community? Did I tell everyone I loved them enough? Did I teach my kids to look inside, and not society because all the power they ever want is within them? Did I encourage all to strive for greatness in all aspect of life? Did I leave an example for the people I lead? What are you willing to die for? Think about it.” -- junecaniel.wordpress.com, Nov. 8, 2010
Maynard is coaching basketball, but he is teaching life. He lectures in and around Fayetteville State from time to time, but he teaches and advises and mentors and counsels every day on the court at Felton J. Capel Arena.
Maynard’s life has been filled with differing opportunities, but it’s hardly been about luck. That’s what he’s trying to pass on. But even Maynard knows he can only go so far, that he can only do so much.
And that’s precisely the point.
“Fayetteville State offers opportunity,” he says. “But then it goes back to being on (the players). It’s on them what they do with the opportunity. Where I fit in is the ability to teach them how to recognize opportunities and maximize opportunities. It’s not enough that they just have opportunities, they have to be taught.
“I think a lot of kids just go to college. But that’s what coaching is all about. Coaching is about getting a player and helping him or her get to another level that they wouldn’t be able to get to on their own versus just getting them here and saying, ‘We gave you an opportunity.’ No, we have to teach. We have to train their eyes on what is opportunity, to teach them how to learn about themselves, which is the key to life.”
Maynard believes he was always going to be able to get his message across. He just needed a means to get it out.
“Basketball is simply the metaphor,” he says. “It could’ve been anything else. It could’ve been cars. It didn’t matter what I did; it would just be the front to really get to the real core of the problem.”
But it was basketball that did it. The game young Jay Maynard couldn’t play as a child in San Francisco has been the vehicle that drives his philosophy two decades later. And as long as there’s a kid, a hoop and a ball,
Maynard will always have fuel.
“Basketball has an end,” he says. “So hopefully you’ve given them some real food for thought, some real food to eat.
“The road to success is always under construction.” -- junecaniel.wordpress.com, Oct. 6, 2010