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HCC Alumnus Craig Burnes Returns to HCC

published March 20, 2024HCC Alumnus Craig Burnes Returns to HCC

Craig Burnes ’83 of St. Joseph returned to Highland Community College Wednesday, Feb. 14, to share life stories and lessons with HCC students, staff and faculty.

A story was shared by Burnes about his mother as a young girl. She loved sports and wanted to support the athletic teams by attending the games with the pep club. When the pep bus stopped for food, she had to remain on the bus because of her skin color while her classmates went inside to eat.

“You all know what it’s like to ride a bus-- I still ride a bus because I coach high school girls’ basketball at Riverside. The bus gets cold and damp when it’s turned off. It made me so mad and full of hate to picture my mom sitting on that bus in the cold. But my mom always told me not to hate—that there’s no place for hate-- only love. She reminded me that we have to go through some of these hard things to make things better and to come out on the other side,” recounted Burnes.

Burnes graduated from Elwood High School in 1981. He earned his Associate of Arts degree at Highland Community College in 1983. At Highland, he played basketball for two years under Head Coach Francis Flax. After HCC, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Emporia State University in 1985.

Burnes worked at Nestlé Purina PetCare for 29 years holding positions as a production supervisor, assistant production manager and operation performance manager before retiring and going into coaching.

His first coaching position was at Mid Buchanan High School in Faucett, Missouri as an assistant girls’ basketball coach. He coached there for five years.

Last year, he took the role of the girls’ head basketball coach at Riverside High School. In his first year, the Cyclones won first place in the McLouth Invitational Tournament, second place in the Big Seven League and were 2A state runners-up.

Burnes spoke on the Mary Helen Gilmore Porter stage of Culbertson Auditorium as part of a series of events to celebrate Black History Month.

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