Globetrotter Otis Key urged Hillman students to develop potential.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- The message that Globetrotter Otis Key had for the students of Hillman Middle School Friday afternoon during an assembly was definitely not "cool."
In fact Key, whose guest appearance at Hillman was part of the Globetrotters' scheduled show Tuesday at Beeghly Center at 7 p.m., told the students that "being cool" is not good for them, but that developing their potential to do positive things in life was the best choice.
"I remember when I was in middle school. I thought I was a cool kid and I had a lot of cool friends. You know who they are. We used to hang around the principal's office all the time. That's how a lot of my friends were," said Key, a native of Russellville, Ky., and a graduate of Lincoln University in his fifth year with the Globetrotters.
Then Key said that one day someone stopped him in the hall and said to him: " 'Otis come here. You got a lot of potential.' "
After which, Key thought: "What is potential? I thought it was cool. But I didn't know what it was."
Then the person explained further to Key: " 'You got the ability to do anything you want to, if you get rid of all your elevator friends.' "
The person then explained what elevator friends were.
You know, " 'When the door shuts, you push one button to go up and another to go down. Or you can look at the buttons and waste time.' "
Well, " 'Some guys you are hanging with can take you up and some can take you down, and others may keep you where you are, and the whole world will pass you by.' "
Key then realized, "I didn't want to admit it, but he was right. That was the last day I was a cool kid."
Changed for better
Key said he changed his ways and began to study. He said his "cool" friends "made fun of me and called me a bookworm."
But, "I was happy because the decision I made was my own. I did it because I was happy with my decision."
He admitted that his "cool" friends "still have [their kind of] fun, but they have to buy tickets to see the Globetrotters play.
"I was 11 or 12 years old then. I've never seen them again."
A forward and goodwill ambassador for the Globetrotters, Key emphasized that choices are important.
"These are the choices you make growing up," he said. "Do what you want to do. Take a step forward. Doing nothing is not a cool place to be, because you are alone."
Tells kids to study
And when you go home, "Do some of your homework. Because like it happened to me, if you attempt to do something, as long as it is positive, it adds up to something."
Key's visit to Hillman was part of The Vindicator's Newspaper-in-education program.
Hillman was selected for Key's stop because Jason Gilmore, a fifth-grade student there, won a contest to see what school plays host to the Globetrotter, with assistance from his teacher, Janet Write.
Tickets for the Globetrotters' appearance are available at Ticketmaster, YSU Campus Book and Supply or by calling (330) 747-1212.