To kick-off this weekend’s final home games of the season and 25th Anniversary celebrations, Camosun presents the stories of five Chargers alum who remain closely connected to the program. While their stories are different, a common theme remains … “Once a Charger, always a Charger.”
(Part Four Of Five)
Well-known for his highly successful career as a varsity athlete, Chargers Hall of Fame inductee, Greg Wallis, has been an inspiration for up and coming players looking to make it to the big leagues.
Greg started his post-secondary basketball career at Camosun where he was named the 2004-05 British Columbia Colleges’ Athletic Association (BCCAA) Rookie of the Year, before earning a First Team All-Star the following season. Greg then moved on to play in the CIS, becoming a two-time Canada West All-Star while studying at Simon Fraser University.
While Greg continues to be recognized for his achievements on the court, he has also built an impressive reputation in the corporate world as the co-founder and Director of Passion Sports Custom, a local apparel company and basketball academy. From the company’s early beginnings in Greg’s parents’ garage, to the flourishing business it is today, Passion Sports maintains its credo to be a brand people can trust – and the Chargers are proud to call Passion Sports its official supplier for uniforms, team gear and specialty apparel.
We recently talked to Greg about what makes Passion Sports so successful and where the company is headed next.
Q: Passion Sports has grown exponentially since starting up in 2006 from your parents’ garage. With 14 employees and over 150,000 items produced, what do you feel is the biggest change the company has made since its early beginnings?
A: It sounds funny, but I think one of our greatest accomplishments is that we haven’t changed. Since we started, we’ve always had the goal of becoming Canada’s most trusted custom apparel provider, and we can only do that by operating with the utmost integrity and treating every order like it’s the most important order in our company’s history.
We’ve added people, brought in new equipment, and become much more efficient, but the underlying goal and philosophy has remained the same.
Q: What has made Passion Sports so successful and what sets it apart from the rest?
A: This is a tough question, but I think Passion Sports initially found success because of our extremely high customer service standards and our constant reinvestment in to the business. Being a young company, we have a very long term approach to the business, and are always looking for ways to improve, even if it’s expensive or painful in the short term.
Q: Over the years, Passion Sports has employed a number of athletes from the Chargers program. What impresses you about these individuals?
A: We have hired several Chargers full-time at the Passion Sports office and many more have worked part-time with us at our Youth Sports programs. What impresses me most about Charger athletes is their work ethic, how well they can handle the stress of responsibility, and how team-oriented they are. If I give them a task, I know it will get done. You’d think that would be the norm, but a lot of people without a team sport background do not thrive as well under pressure, and can be much less reliable.
Q: One of Passion Sports’ senior employees is Chris Abra, who played and worked as an assistant coach with the Chargers for over a decade. As a player, Chris was recognized as a two-time BCCAA Academic Excellence award winner and helped the men’s volleyball team to gold and silver medal finishes at provincials and a National bronze in 2009. Chris began his coaching position with the women’s volleyball team in 2011, and was instrumental in leading the Chargers to win silver at the 2017 CCAA National Championships – the highest achievement for the program to date. Chris definitely left his mark at Camosun and the Chargers are fortunate that he dedicated all those years of hard work to the program. When did Chris join up with you and what is his role at Passion Sports?
A: Chris joined the company in early 2010, when we were still operating out of my parents’ garage. He has made such a major impact on the company that his job is hard to define, but his ‘official’ role is Chief Technology Officer. Aside from being responsible for integrating and managing all of the technical services that we use internally at Passion Sports, he also plays a significant role in setting the strategy for our company and executing on our extremely high customer service standards.
Chris is an extremely dedicated individual, and many of the improvements at Passion Sports have been a result of his research and experimentation.
Q: You are also employing one of our current athletes, Dylan Marsden, from the men’s basketball team. What is Dylan’s role and how did he become a part of the Passion Sports team?
A: Dylan has been coaching at Passion Sports basketball camps for the past several years, and has worked his way up to become our Director of Basketball Operations. He is now responsible for creating, coordinating, marketing, and coaching all of the basketball-related events that we put on throughout the Summer, Spring Break, and Winter Break, as well as other special events.
Dylan exemplifies the qualities I mentioned earlier with regards to work ethic, thriving under pressure, and reliability. Leading a group of 50 kids and six staff is a tough job, but he is making it look easy.
Q: Passion Sports seems to be continually developing and thriving. What’s next?
A: I think you can expect to see our core principles and attention to detail stay the same. However, you will see us get more involved with customers outside of the sports world (we are already doing a lot of corporate work) and engage with a lot of bigger clients, like our recent order for Team BC. We are still very much in growth-phase, and are looking forward to helping a lot of new teams, groups, companies and events look great in 2019 and beyond.