As a student-athlete, Myles Charvis would work morning shifts at Costco from 4 a.m. until 10 a.m., then head straight to basketball practice.
It earned him the nickname “Costco” from his teammates.
That hustle lasted his entire university career, consisting of two years at the University of Waterloo followed by two notable seasons with the Ryerson Rams. Since he was a kid, Charvis’s dream was to play professional basketball, but growing up in the Canadian system and shuttling himself from Costco to his university gym, he didn’t quite know how that dream would play out.
“Canadian guys weren’t really getting the recognition they deserved at the time,” Charvis, 25, told CBC Sports about growing up in the sport. “Granted now, with all the eyes and attention, Canada has really stepped up their game in a basketball aspect so a lot more attention is on us.
“But back then it was just a dream and nothing but hard work was going to make it attainable.”
WATCH | Myles Charvis on life in the CEBL:
Then the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) came along in 2019 , opening up an entirely new avenue for Canadians like Charvis to not only play more basketball, but also make money.
“I think CEBL provides a beautiful first step for guys like me that just came out of university and are still trying to figure it out, still trying to keep that pro dream alive but at the same time still manage that family life and really provide for your family,” he said.
In its second year of operation, the CEBL was the first pro league in Canada to start up again during the COVID-19 pandemic. Charvis is in his second season as point guard with the Guelph Nighthawks, one of seven teams battling it out in the CEBL Summer Series in St. Catharines, Ont. CBC Sports has live coverage of the entire tournament, through to the final on Aug. 9.
For Charvis, from Mississauga, Ont., playing in the CEBL is more than just making his childhood dream come true. It’s about creating a solid, reliable foundation for his life. He is able to live at home and raise his three-year-old son Elijah, and the toddler can even come watch him play, something Charvis treasures. He also has a clothing brand called Foundation To Greatness which he’ll continue to grow while playing basketball.
“To start off your career playing in Canada and not have to leave your family to go abroad to make some money I think it’s a great opportunity,” he said. “Canada continues to get behind this program, skies the limit, and it’s just going to get bigger and better.”
The league nurtures Canadian talent by design. It has a minimum number of roster sports that need to be filled by Canadians, which explains why 80 per cent of this year’s rosters are Canadian talent. The league also has a formal relationship with U Sports, the national governing body of Canadian university sport, which includes a yearly draft of student-athletes into the league. The students get paid to play and, because the league operates in the summer, the opportunity doesn’t affect their schooling.
Mitch Robson, former U Sports basketball commentator and co-host of the Muted Madness podcast, says the league provides the same opportunity to play in Canada that football players have with the CFL.
“You don’t have to try and chase a school out in the U.S., but you can stay here, get a good education, and then you have that opportunity to go right into the CEBL in the summer and be able to supplement that if you still do want to go overseas,” Robson said. “So you can be a professional basketball player while getting a Canadian university education as a viable career path.”
Athletes like Charvis show the CEBL’s design is already working to not only keep more talent north of the border, but also give Canadians a platform to develop and imagine what a professional basketball career could look like.
“I’m just happy to be able to be living out a dream I had since I was a kid, and that’s the important thing,” he said. “When kids have dreams, never shut them down because they’ll be attainable if they really put their mind to it.”