Growing up as the youngest of eight children, Bobby Walker ’95 distinguished himself as an excellent student and athlete at the St. Mark’s School in Dallas, Texas. As he worked his way through high school football, Walker, who played nose guard, defensive end and linebacker, attracted the attention of many Div. I coaches. By his senior year, he had cast his gaze on Baylor, where he had the opportunity to continue his football career at a highly competitive program. After being accepted to Baylor with a merit scholarship, Walker visited the campus with a friend. Overcome by a sense of anonymity and disappointment, he left in the middle of the tour.
Aside from Baylor, Walker had applied to five other schools, most of which were in-state. Recognizing Walker’s academic excellence and potential, his college counselor pulled him aside one day, asking, “When football comes to an end, which it eventually will, which school is going to put you in the best position to be successful?”
It was not until January of his senior year that Walker heard of the College for the first time. Initially, he refused to apply because he did not think he could get in, and it was too far from home. Remembering his stubbornness, Walker joked, “At that point, I couldn’t even spell or pronounce the word ‘Massachusetts.’”
After being hounded by his college counselor for weeks, Walker finally submitted an application to the College – two months past the deadline. His counselor called the Office of Admission several times to ask that it at least read Walker’s application. A few short weeks later, Walker received his acceptance letter. Leaving the warmth of Dallas to see the College for the first time, Walker spent four days in the Purple Valley. After just a few short hours, he was sold by the community and intimacy of the campus.
“As far away from home and as cold as it was, I absolutely fell in love with it,” he said.
Once he got to campus, Walker quickly distinguished himself as a phenomenal athlete. His first two years at the College, however, were a struggle. His family faced financial struggles at home, and he felt guilty for leaving Dallas and for having such incredible opportunities. Walker worked fifteen hours a week in the dining hall, fitting in as many shifts as possible between classes and practices.
During winter study of his sophomore year, Walker called his mom; he was ready to come home. As much as she wanted to have her son back, she insisted that he stick it out for just one more week. As he doubted his place at the College, he turned to his friends, professors, and, especially, football and men’s track and field Head Coach Dick Farley. Never once mentioning football, Farley consoled Walker, embracing his role as a mentor.
Walker’s athletic career began swiftly and impressively; he trained, excelled and competed three seasons each year with the football and track and field teams. Captaining football and track, he totaled five All-American selections among the two sports.
He led the defensive charge in football’s undefeated 1994 season and won the 1995 NCAA title in the 35-lb. weight throw. Despite the overwhelming challenges, Walker embodied the spirit of sportsmanship and commitment that defines Williams athletics. His senior year, CNN’s Danny Sheridan declared him the best Div. III football player in the nation. More than 20 years later, he remains the Ephs’ all-time leading tackler.
Walker‘s excellence earned him the Muhammad Kenyatta Community Service Award and the Purple Key Award, which is awarded to the athlete who “best exemplifies leadership, team spirit, ability and character.” Despite his success, Walker maintains his humility and thankfulness. “I was fortunate to have done as well as I had,” he said. “It was a true blessing that success came early for me.”
After graduating from the College, Walker devoted himself to education and mentorship and returned to St. Mark’s School to begin his professional career. He has since worked and coached at several private schools across the country. Walker recently became the Chief Executive Officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, an after-school program designed to give children a safe and productive place to thrive and to develop. The Boys & Girls Clubs ensures that every kid, no matter his or her socioeconomic background, has the same opportunities.
Walker and his wife Becky ’95, whom he met 25 years ago at a hockey game, live with their two kids in Greenwich, Conn. Carrying the lessons of hard work and selflessness he learned from his incredible athletic career, Bobby Walker has dedicated his life and himself to others.