By Jim Misunas
LARNED — Thanks to a connection with Kansas, former renowned basketball player Allen Winder was able to share stories with residents of the Larned Juvenile Correctional Facility, ages 13 to 21.
Winder, who toured with Hall of Famers Meadowlark Lemon and Wilt Chamberlain, told how the game of basketball helped speed the process of integration in the United States. Winder, nicknamed the “Blue Eyed Soul Brother,” was the first white basketball player with Lemon’s Bucketeers after he graduated from the University of Houston.
Winder shared the history of the Harlem Globetrotters touring basketball team during his presentation at LJCF Tuesday afternoon.
Many of the teenagers and young adults at LJCF had not been exposed to the past where whites and blacks were separated into different hotels, restaurants and drinking fountains.
“I can’t imagine living in that world when everything was segregated,” Winder said.
Winder talked about discrimination and equal opportunity, no matter where you came from. The Globetrotters broke down racial barriers that changed history. They not only entertained the world but entertained the Pope, Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth and many other influential people.
“There is no doubt that what the Harlem Globetrotters did on the basketball court helped with integration,” Winder said. “When business people saw them succeeding at basketball, they eventually began to provide opportunities to succeed in other areas from the NBA to business.”
The Globetrotters’ innovative way of playing basketball also changed the game. Winder said players like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan were preceded by ball-handling wizards Curly Neal and Marquis Haynes.
“They brought that style of game to the NBA and changed the game forever,” he said.
Winder, a natural people person, offers “Life Enrichment Presentations,” to learning centers, schools, businesses, elderly care communities, prisons and the mentally challenged. Winder said he promotes thinking and interaction for everyone attending.
Winder maintains an office in Great Bend and makes regular visits to the River Bend Elderly Community, the Barton County Academy, The Sterling House, Great Bend Health/Rehab, The Country Place; among other schools, businesses and community functions.
Winder owns Adubstudios.net which coordinates his presentations.
“This is my way of giving back,” Winder said. “I’ve been blessed. Sometimes, it’s as simple as providing a smile, a visit or giving folks something to look forward to that day.”
Winder is married to Kayla (Osburn) Winder, a graduate of Larned High School who also attended Pawnee Heights High School. She graduated from Fort Hays State and is working on nursing certification in addition to her masters degree in psychology.
Winder’s presentation, done with a personalized DVD, was accompanied by questions and commentary that engaged the residents.
Winder worked in the information technology industry since the early 1980s in all technical disciplines, running multi-million dollar corporations. He has crafted automated techniques and methodology critical to workflow enhancement, business process improvement and best practices modeling. But basketball and interacting and teaching are now his passions.