Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Lezlie States, and I am proud member of the North End Community in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Growing up in a middle-class neighborhood in the inner city of Halifax I was very cognizant of the socio-economic and racial divide between our communities. My passion is the commitment and dedication to the personal growth and development of all young females with an emphasis on basketball, education and social interaction encompassing diversity and inclusion.
I was employed with Canada Post for over 35 years. I am a mom, wife, sister, daughter and very proud nana of twin granddaughters and one grandson. I have been married for 28 years and both myself and my husband have been very involved with basketball at all levels.
I am the founder and director of the Maritime Elite Girls Basketball Academy (MEGA Basketball), and a head coach of the program. My coaching career spans 25 years having coached at various levels from minor through to high school, as well as Basketball Nova Scotia provincial teams and currently with MEGA Basketball. I played basketball briefly in high school but had the opportunity to begin my working career at Canada Post while still in tenth grade. I am Vice Commissioner of The Maritime Women’s Basketball Association (The MWBA) new amateur women’s league set to begin our inaugural season in spring 2022. League will have teams six teams, three in each NB and NS.
I enjoy reading “take me away” romance novels to lighten my day as well as spending as much time as possible laughing and being with family and friends. My latest passion has become travel, but Covid has slowed that down for the time being. I have always been interested in history and culture so to be able to wander aimlessly around various countries around the world is exciting.
I have always been proud of my north end community where I have lived my whole life, so I choose to engage any of my projects to give back to the area that has raised me into the woman I am today. One mandate of MEGA is for our athletes to give back to the community that supports us. We host an annual Stocking in a Box campaign at Christmas for single moms in the Halifax municipality as well as help serve Easter and Christmas dinner at the local food bank( pre Covid). We participate in local female empowerment discussions and conferences.
I have been blessed to be nominated for the Royal Bank National Women of Influence Award 2018.
I also won the following:
I was also featured on CTV News local and national on our program and an initiative we provided for Black Lives Matter.
What is an issue or topic you are passionate about or would like to see changed?
For over a decade I dreamt of creating an organization that would incorporate my love for basketball and the importance of education and social interaction between females of all cultural and social-economic backgrounds. In the spring of 2009, The Maritime Elite Girls Basketball Academy (MEGA Baseball) was created. MEGA started initially with two programs, the Elite ID High School girls summer camp and a summer travel team. Over the years MEGA has grown and has offered many young women and girls from around the province skills development, leadership and mentoring programs. The young ladies have traveled and competed in many championships across the USA and Canada. Some of our most notable tournaments have been the AAU 8th gr Nationals in Orlando Fla, USJN 8th gr Nationals in Philadelphia, Pa., Basketball Hall of Fame 8th gr Nationals in Springfield Mass, 8th gr Nike Nationals in Atlanta Ga, International Children’s Games Windsor Ont.,
My support staff and I have a vision to make a difference in the lives of young women and girls.
I get the most fulfillment from seeing former players pursue their educational dreams while attending post-secondary institutions and become successful young ladies.
“As MEGA grows, so do the young ladies who have participated in our program. Their success is shared by all because @ MEGA WE ARE ONE!”
What is your favourite leadership quote?
MEGA favorite quote and belief is that “HARD WORK BEATS TALENT WHEN TALENT FAILS TO WORK HARD” -Tim Notke
What specific strategies would you like to see parents, coaches or sport administrators do to improve diversity in sport or progress your cause?
For as simple as it sounds, I would love for every child that wants to participate in sport to be able to do so. There are government funds that could be allotted more precisely and with intention to support children staying active and healthy. I believe instead of just handing out money to “lead” partners to disburse the funds there needs to be conversation with the proper people at the table of decision making. Most decisions are made by “head” of organizations and very rarely include the people at the community or grassroots level. Those are the people who see these youth daily and know the REAL challenges they face, not the perceived challenges. I believe with those funds it can’t just for them to play. We must include funds to help deal with their mental state. Even before Covid but since Covid our youth are dealing with so many extra issues by the time they walk into our practices. Most of us play councilors as well as coaches to the youth and many need more than we can provide for them to continue a successful pathway. Some may say these services are available to our youth, but the reality is they are available to selected youth and at limited resources. One style of counselling does not work for everyone when you consider race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and economics.
You can’t just throw money at a group of people (African Nova Scotian, Indigenous, LBGTQ+2S, New Canadians etc) and think that the issues are the same for the entire group. Many factors need to be taken into consideration. To say the funds are limited and then to watch how the government funds are allotted is frustrating.
People want to bee seen and acknowledged and included as a whole. Youth are vulnerable and the more we can include them and appreciate and celebrate our differences the more chance there is for them to become successful citizens both in society and on the court, field, pitch, rink.
I don’t necessarily have any resources I go to, but I do enjoy listening to former Tennessee Women’s Basketball Coach and Hall of Famer Pat Summitt as she speaks to and about her former players and how she inspires and empowers them to be great players and ladies. I also love listening to University of South Carolina’s Women’s Head Coach and Olympian Dawn Staley. To hear her perspective on the athletes of today and how she has had to adjust her coaching style while still holding the athletes accountable both on the court and in the classroom.
I tell my young ladies all the time “You are AMAZING young ladies with GREAT potential, go out and be the BEST version of yourself”. And remember I’m always on speed dial😊