Hundreds from the Albion community – including members of the Briton cross country, men's basketball, women's basketball, men's lacrosse and track & field teams – were encouraged to look beyond themselves as Milton Barnes, '79, delivered the keynote address during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Dialogue and Service at Washington Gardner School.
Barnes, a four-year member of Albion's men's basketball team, which included a 1978 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship and third place finish in the NCAA Division III Tournament, touched hundreds of lives over more than 35 years as a basketball coach and scout at the international, professional, collegiate and high school levels.
As the boys' basketball coach at Albion High School from 1988-91, the Wildcats achieved a 65-11 record and reached the Michigan High School Athletic Association Class B state championship game in 1990-91. His career also included coaching stints at Eastern Michigan University and with the Greenville Groove of the NBA Developmental League, and, most recently, he completed eight years as a scout for the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves.
He continues to be involved in youth, launching the Play Right Basketball Academy in Dallas, Texas, and Battle Creek.
"Basketball is a big part of my life, but it's not the complete story," Barnes advised. "It's important to know where you come from.
"You go through college trying to find yourself. Define yourself. Define who you are or someone else will define you," he added.
In defining yourself, Barnes advised the students their education isn't limited to the campus. He told the students their education continues when they walk off campus and encourage the youth they inevitably contact.
In the end, Barnes used principles from The Energy Bus, encouraging students to recognize they are in charge of their lives, to develop a vision of what they want to accomplish and to provide the energy needed to reach their goals.
"When you have energy, you want to share it – it becomes contagious and you want to share it with other people," Barnes said. "Your positive energy and vision must be greater than any negativity you face. You have to be determined and committed to what you are doing.
"We all have something to give," he added. "It doesn't have to be measured monetarily. Even if it's five minutes or a kind word. We can talk about (service), but it's most important to do something about it."
After Barnes' address, college faculty and staff and community members facilitated discussion before tackling service opportunities at Washington Gardner and various Albion community locations. One of the service activities had members of the men's lacrosse and track & field teams making knot scarves to be distributed to children at Harrington Elementary School.
Albion's Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation and Community Celebration is scheduled for Jan. 30 and 7 p.m. as Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson delivers the keynote address at the Bohm Theatre.