McKale Williams pays it forward

Published on March 11, 2024

McKale Williams displays one of his designs on his shirt during the 2024 Cecil College Alumni Basketball Game. He is holding a basketball under his arm in the photograph.

McKale Williams displays one of his designs on his shirt during the 2024 Cecil College Alumni Basketball Game.

NORTH EAST, Md: McKale Williams can light up a room with an infectious smile and personality to match. This was the case when he walked into the office of Cecil College’s Men’s Basketball coach, Ed Durham, and asked to try out for the team. That smile and personality quickly won over the coach, as his positive attitude only enhanced his athletic abilities.

“When I came to Cecil College, I quickly realized how family-oriented the environment was towards every student,” said Williams, whose path had led him from Colorado to Delaware and finally to Cecil County. “You are not just a number on a class roster at Cecil. It is a place where you can foster relationships with your classmates and professors.”

Williams’ journey began in Aurora, Colorado, where he was a standout basketball player. However, a fractured vertebrae forced him to miss his senior season and college recruitment opportunities. Williams moved to Delaware with his family after a semester at the Metropolitan State University of Denver as a full-time student. This move would change the course of his life.

“When McKale contacted me about attending an open tryout, we didn’t know what to expect because we had no information on him as he had just moved from Colorado. Following that open gym, McKale approached me and asked when the next one was. I told him that he didn’t need to come to the next one. He seemed perplexed, and that’s when I informed him, he was on the team,” said Coach Durham. “Not only did we get an outstanding basketball player, but we also got a great student and an even better human being. McKale is that person you want to be around. His attention to detail in everything is what sets him apart.”

“Coming to Cecil College opened my eyes to all the opportunities in the world. There is always someone willing to help you. If you put in the work and prepare yourself as much as possible, whether it is for a game or a test, there are people out there who want to help you and want you to succeed,” said Williams.

Williams succeeded in the classroom and on the basketball court through determination, dedication, and hard work. As a student-athlete, he was a member of the 2019 Region 20, Division II Championship team that took third at the NJCAA National Tournament. He finished his career at Cecil College as the team’s most effective three-point shooter as the Seahawks finished the 2020 season with a 23-7 record.

Even more impressive was his dedication to his studies. He earned an associate degree in media communications with a perfect 4.0 GPA. His academic success was recognized nationally, as he was twice named an NJCAA All-Academic athlete. Williams even served as a student-model, representing the College in several publications, ads and billboards.

His accomplishments caught the attention of Stevenson University’s men’s head coach, Gary Stewart, who offered Williams an academic and athletic scholarship. Williams’ success continued for the Mustangs on the hardwood while he completed his bachelor’s degree in communications, applying lessons he learned at Cecil College.

“Being a student-athlete, time management is something you must perfect. You must create time throughout the day for different things, like basketball practice, schoolwork, and personal life. Trust me; there is enough time throughout the day to do so,” said Williams, who will complete his master’s degree in communications this spring. “You need to use the support services as much as you can. There is no excuse to fail here. So many faculty and staff at Cecil College will go the extra mile to help you. Use their help to your advantage.”

That positive attitude is paving the way for Williams’ latest venture. He has reconnected with childhood friend Matt Johnson to create a motivational clothing brand called “Find Your Path.” They create their own designs and use a print-on-demand service, which reduces overhead and provides direct shipping. The philosophy behind the brand is to promote the breaking of molds and embracing ‘intelligence for your life.’

“It is always difficult to start your own business, but in social media, you must adjust and promote as much as possible. We are building our network. It is all a process,” said Williams. “It is all about connections, kindness, and good relationships. These were lessons I learned at Cecil and applied at Stevenson and in life.”

“It is not surprising that he is successful in everything he does, but what makes that success impressive is how humble he is. One of the best things to happen to our program was the day McKale Williams contacted me. It set the tone for who we were for the next two years. He is an ambassador for the program and school. He represents what it is to be an all-around individual,” said Coach Durham.

Stevenson University also provided him with an opportunity to advocate the philosophy of paying it forward. Through an internship working with children, Williams experienced first-hand how impactful he could be to the next generation. This opportunity allowed him to share his positive attitude with the children and encourage them to achieve their dreams.

“I have good insight into how to be a good team player and how that can be applied to life. I was able to provide them with lessons that they can carry throughout their lives: be a good person, a good teammate, a good student, just a good human, and it will pay off in the end,” said Williams.