Northern Kings: ‘Not Just About Basketball’
TORONTO,ON–It originated as a mission.
The “Toronto Mission” to be exact; a club team that has now transitioned into the name “Northern Kings,” while sustaining the same moral fibre that management had implemented from the jump in 2002.
“Our long-term goal would be to build an organization that would be known not only for developing the basketball player, but also developing their character so that when they finish their education from the scholarship they obtain, they come back to make a contribution to society,” stated Kerriegh Ernst, Founder of Toronto Mission and current Northern Kings President.
Following a triumphant summer that saw the Northern Kings collect victories including a FAB 48 Gold Division championship in Vegas, NPH took time to learn about the foundation that has been established in order for underprivileged youth to achieve success.
As it stands, 30+ student-athletes have obtained full scholarships from division one NCAA schools.
Prominent program alumni include Tyler Murray and Keaton Cole.
Murray is an under the radar standout guard at Wagner College (NCAA) who enters his senior year, poised to make a splash on the national radar.
“I had a great relationship with everyone at Mission; it’s more than just basketball, it’s a family,” stated Murray.
“Everyone there is out to help one another on and off the court.”
Keaton Cole also enters his senior year in the NCAA, playing for the Western Carolina Catamounts. The 5’9 point guard looks back at his time with the Northern Kings (which at that time was Mission).
“My experience has been life altering, because nothing was given to me, I had to work my way up the ladder. I was presented with opportunities that I seized and never took things for granted, because many players in Toronto would die for this,” Cole passionately explained.
“Off the court I learned to respect and treat others the right way…I also learned about new cultures, which helped shape my perception of different countries.”
After witnessing the program’s presence over the summer, it has become evident that the approach is different. While winning is vital as far as competition is concerned…character, academics and player development trumps every time.
“If they can’t take care of business in the classroom, they can’t take care of business on the court,” explained Ernst.
Ultimately, the game we love is a useful resource to help youth absorb traits that can be applied in their daily lives such as teamwork, leadership and commitment.
After an hour long discussion with Ernst, he provides a positive alternative to replace violence and crime, with the round orange ball.
“We really need new role models for youth. They need to be able to look up and say, ‘hey there’s a different way. I don’t have to join this gang to feel part of a family, I can join Northern Kings and that can be my family.'”