Beyond the Court: Javon Cooley's Dynamic Path as a DI Student-Athlete and Fashion Entrepreneur

Michelle Eggink, Assistant Director of Content Marketing & Communications
Javon showing his versatility modeling in the Silver Needle Runway Fashion Show (left, photo by Daniel Parker Photography) and playing Division I basketball (right, photo courtesy of Marist Athletics).
As of March 4, the Marist men’s basketball team boasts a 16-11 overall record, its highest win total in 16 years. Currently in fourth place in the MAAC, Marist has two regular season games remaining. The Red Foxes’ home game is against Niagara on Saturday, March 9, at 2 p.m. Both the men's and women's teams will head to the conference championships at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City from March 12-16. Purchase tickets in the Marist fan section for the Men's and Women's 2024 Hercules Tires MAAC Basketball Championship.

March 5, 2024 — Who says you have to choose just one passion? Certainly not Javon Cooley '23/'24M, a triple threat on the court, in the classroom, and on the runway.

It’s no secret that Javon has heart. A driven master’s student, a Division I basketball player, and a fashion entrepreneur with his own brand, Javon proves that when people pursue their passions and talents, a chain reaction of possibilities and success can follow.

Image of Javon in McCann weight room.

Javon in the Marist weight room in McCann. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.

He’s a model student for Marist’s distinctive educational approach that emphasizes “and, not or,” meaning students are encouraged to explore diverse combinations of academic programs as well as student experiences and activities.

“Javon represents the Marist mission; he’s enlightened, sensitive, and productive,” said Dr. Addrain Conyers, Assistant Provost for Faculty Development and one of Javon’s mentors. “He’s also a great designer! I told him when I met him that he could balance basketball, pursue his aspirations to be a fashion designer, AND be an excellent student — and he’s done just that.”

From Student to Entrepreneur

Image of Javon (bottom right) and friends modeling Chain Reaction apparel in the MakerLabat Marist Steel Plant.

Javon (bottom right) and friends modeling Chain Reaction apparel in the MakerLab at Marist Steel Plant. Photo courtesy of Javon Cooley.

A first-generation college student from the Midwest, who received his Marist undergraduate degree in only three years, Javon majored in business administration with a concentration in marketing and a minor in fashion merchandising. He’s now pursuing a master’s degree in marketing to help grow his clothing brand Chain Reaction, which Javon started in 2021 on his computer in his dorm room in Champagnat Hall.

“Chain Reaction is about embracing who you are and sharing your gift with the world,” said Javon. “We don’t need to let self-doubt or the thoughts of others stop us from using our gifts. I want Chain Reaction to inspire others to break barriers and feel more comfortable and secure about pursuing their passions so they can create their own chain reactions.”

Image of Javon Cooley '23/'24M wearing his Chain Reaction sweatshirt from his Face Your Fears Collection in McCann.

Javon Cooley '23/'24M wearing his Chain Reaction sweatshirt from his Face Your Fears Collection in McCann. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.

His passion to succeed is what stands out the most to Rebecca Brown, Senior Professional Lecturer of Fashion Merchandising and Javon’s fashion mentor.

“Javon is hardworking, curious, so willing to learn, accepts feedback, and has great follow through,” she said. "Javon has set goals for himself and will not stop until he achieves them.”

Growing up on the border of Indiana and Illinois, Javon spent a lot of time in both Hammond, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois playing sports and exploring his love for design, music, and fashion. While he was surrounded by a family of creatives, he often felt different from a lot of his peers, standing out with his style and his relationship with fashion.

“Had I changed, I would have felt out of place,” said Javon. “Now I surround myself with freethinkers and open-minded people and feel embraced."

The meaning behind Chain Reaction’s last collection Face Your Fears is rooted in Javon’s thoughts on taking on challenges.

“The fears we don’t face limit us to reaching our full potential,” said Javon.

Cooley on the Court

Image of Javon playing against Siena.

Javon playing against Siena at McCann Arena. Photo courtesy of Marist Athletics.

On the court, Javon, who stands at 6 feet, 5 inches tall, is described by his coaches as a tenacious rebounder, a great teammate, and a consistent free-throw shooter with an impressive ability to dunk the ball. He’s third in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) for three-point shooting percentage and helps the team lead defensively as well. The Red Foxes are fifth in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) in points per game allowed. 

“My basketball scholarship changed my life. I’m thankful to Coach (John) Dunne, the coaching staff, and my team for making my journey easier and I’m grateful for the opportunity to play basketball at the Division 1 level,” said the 22-year-old.

"Javon is one of the most mature young men I have ever coached," said Dunne, Head Coach for Men’s Basketball. "Since day one, he has been laser-focused on working toward his future. He has a work ethic and a mental toughness about him that enables him to perform at a high level on the court while staying focused on his academics and clothing line. I have no doubt that he will be very successful in life."

Another highlight of Javon's student-athlete experience was when he traveled last May with a group from Marist to Los Angeles to attend the Black Student-Athlete Summit. There, he got the opportunity to connect with current and former student-athletes from other universities around the country to share experiences and support one another.

“I keep putting one foot in front of the other and stay grounded because I know where I want to go.” he said.

Walking the Walk

Image of Javon on the SNR runway.

Javon modeling at SNR 37. Photo courtesy of Daniel Parker Photography.

Outside of his already full schedule of classwork, basketball, and building his business, Javon has taken on other activities at Marist like modeling in the Silver Needle Runway, Marist’s annual fully student-run fashion show.

“It felt great to be in the show twice already and I hope to do it again this year. While it can be a bit nerve-wracking before going on the runway, it’s fun and meaningful to be able to help represent the story the student designers want to tell with their collection.”

Javon advises, "Make the most out of every opportunity at Marist and don’t leave anything on the table."

Learn More About Chain Reaction
From hats to shorts to a newly released hoodie, Chain Reaction apparel can be found on Javon’s website or at MPorium, Marist’s student-run entrepreneurial boutique in the Steel Plant fashion building. You can also follow Chain Reaction on Instagram.

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