Kenneth Tinsley. Courtesy of Author

By Vyllorya Evans, Co-Chair, Southwest Neighborhood Assembly and Wilma Goldstein, member Education and Youth Task Force 

At the Modern on M Apartments in Southwest DC, we recently had the chance to catch up with Kenneth Tinsley, a previous winner of the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) Education and Youth Task Force scholarship, and ask the question on all of our minds – where is he now?

Tinsley’s presence fills a room. He has the tall, athletic look of someone who has played football and since finishing his college studies has had a series of jobs coaching and conducting conditioning in that sport. 

In his time away from DC while attending college, playing football, going to graduate school and coaching his sport of choice, he discovered he missed his DC family and friends. Last year Tinsley was hired as the assistant coach for running backs at Georgetown University. Although we don’t know how long it will be until someone tries to entice him away, we do know he’s happy to be here, his family is happy, and his friends are happy. 

“Kenneth is an inspiration to his peers, and I am sure he doesn’t realize his impact,” said Peter Gibbs, retired director of the Office of Surety Guarantees at the U.S. Office of The Small Business Administration. “His ability to go after his dreams, despite all the obstacles he faces in a very competitive industry is an inspiration to me. I am so proud of his journey, but I value him as a person more than anything.”

Reverend Mia McClain, Senior Pastor at the Riverside Baptist Church in Southwest DC, called Tinsley a great resource and a dedicated member of the community. “From helping to put up Christmas lights in our church (he is one of the few who are tall enough), to brainstorming ideas about the relaunch of some youth programming, Kenneth is a true asset to and advocate for Southwest DC. I look forward to the ways he will continue to grow and inspire the next generation,” McClain said. 

As the middle child of Diann Tinsley and the late Yurlee McNeil, Tinsley has an older sister, Khiana Johnson, who has two children of her own, and a younger brother also named Yurlee. Both generations were born, raised and educated in DC through high school. Tinsley went to Amidon (now known as Amidon-Bowen) for elementary school and spent his first year of middle school at Jefferson Middle School Academy and his final two years at the now closed Sasha Bruce Public Charter School. He then went to Woodrow Wilson High School (now known as Jackson Reed High School) and graduated from Wilson in 2008.                                                                                        

He chose Central State University, located in Wilberforce, Ohio, for his undergraduate studies, in part because he tends to look at colleges and universities for the balance between education and sports. He received SWNA scholarships in the years 2008- 2011. At Central State, he majored in business administration management and played tight end for three seasons on the school’s football team. In years when Tinsley didn’t play football at Central State, he coached the women’s basketball team and served as athletic mascot.

His brother Yurlee, who is an IT Specialist, also earned SWNA scholarships  as a student at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Both Central Union and South Carolina State are part of the proud American tradition of excellent Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). 

After college graduation, Tinsley returned to DC where he started his career as a coach when he was hired at Eastern Senior High School in Northeast DC as the assistant offensive coordinator as well as assistant head strength and conditioning coach. He has since had a series of jobs at the collegiate level where he has coached football, served as a conditioning coach, helped with player development and recruitment and mentored several individual players who went on to receive playing honors.                                                                                                               

His first job after being at DC’s Eastern High School, was in the 2014-15 season at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Then he went to Union College in Schenectady, New York where he spent several seasons and played a key role in planning the team’s offense and assisting in wide receiver development, leading the team to one undefeated season and one 11-1 season.

While at Union, he mentored wide receiver Andre Ross, Jr. to his Rookie of the Year honor and took the team to two All-Liberty League First Team Selections. This assignment led to several assistant coaching jobs at Morrisville State College in Morrisville, New York, and American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts, where Tinsely also earned his MBA degree.

We spent the last part of our interview talking about his future. Tinsley said he enjoys coaching, although he said he finds it to be more like teaching. We think his future 

can be whatever he wants it to be. 

We asked his mother, Diann, for a quote and will give her the last word.  “When you were 12 years old I told you, ‘You’re the man.’ Twenty years later I’m proud to say, ‘You are still the man.’ Your kind heart and determined action has made you the man you are today. Remember to always love God and be you.”

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