Being a good teammate trumps all

As senior year unfolds, veteran defender Jimmy Walker settles into a leadership role


SEASON OPENER: Senior defender Jimmy Walker shields the ball from an oncoming opposing player in the district opener against McCallum rival LB.J. “The game against L.B.J was a rough one,” Walker said. “We weren’t as well-organized as a team, and we didn’t handle the ball as well as we should have. But it was kind of eye-opening, learning experience for all of us and we figured out how to improve from it.” Photo by Ale Luera.

Cohen Johnson-Dye, staff reporter

The Shield: When did you start playing soccer?

Jimmy Walker: I’ve been playing soccer as long as I can remember. Since kindergarten I’ve been playing on rec teams and stuff. Soccer has kind of always been a part of my life, and I’m interested to see what kind of place that soccer holds in my future.

TS: How long have you been playing for McCallum?

JW: I made the McCallum team in my freshman year, and I played all four years, but I didn’t make varsity until my sophomore year.
TS: What position do you play?
JW: I play right defense, but in our formations I work as a winger as well because I get to push up a lot and help attack.

Soccer is something I have enjoyed for a long time now, and I’ve always been super dedicated to the team and it’s been an important part of my life for a long time now.”

— Jimmy Walker

TS: Your name was mentioned in an article published in the Statesman, in which they described you as a player who brings “speed and an offensive threat to the wings.” How did you work to ensure that you were a notable name on the varsity roster?

JW: I’ve been working hard and keeping a good attitude as long as I’ve been on the team. Soccer is something I have enjoyed for a long time now, and I’ve always been super dedicated to the team and it’s been an important part of my life for a long time now.
TS: How did seeing your name in that article make you feel?
JW: It felt really good. I feel like there are other players on the team who are more notable, but I was still really proud to be a part of it.
TS: What is your favorite memory from being on the team?
JW: We had a tournament freshman year that we got to miss a day of school for, and me and my friends got to play and watch games all day, and just hang out. Last year, we headed to the third round of the playoffs, which was the farthest our team has made it in 20 years. We worked really hard last year, and it paid off, because we ended up doing really well and building a reputation for our team that hadn’t been achieved in such a long time.

Esme Moreno
STARTING OFF WITH A BANG: Walker stands on the sideline during halftime and prepares to head back on the field during the Knights’ 2-1 loss at Lockhart on Jan. 28. In including Walker among his “players to watch” this season, Stateman sports reporter Thomas Jones wrote: “This starter on last year’s 5A regional quarterfinalist team brings speed and an offensive threat to the wings.” Since district play starter, the Knights have struggled earning two draws and suffering four losses. Despite these struggles, Walker is confident the team will turn its season around. The Knights battle Navarro on Saturday. Photo by Esme Moreno.

TS: What have you provided the team that makes you unique as a player?
JW: I’m quick, and I’m good at defending. Over the last three years, I’ve been working on my performance as an individual, as well as my performance as a team member. I can interact and kind of flow with my team members, which is a skill that takes a lot of work and a lot of practice. As a defender, I have a fast reaction time, and I’m able to back my teammates up and make sure everyone is where they’re supposed to be. Having that solid defense that you can trust and feel secure with is really important for a team, and I feel like I’ve definitely worked hard to provide that for us.
TS: Who’s your idol in the world of soccer?
JW: My idol is probably Gareth Bale. He played as a defender, a similar position to what I play, and he kind of worked his way to being a forward. I really respect the way he plays and he plays a position I really like. He put his all into his career, and it paid off, which is really cool. He’s also from Wales, which is where I’m from as well.
TS: What the best part of playing soccer?
JW: I like that it’s a team sport, and that I get to play and bond with my friends. That’s always been an important part for me, and was actually one of the big reasons why I chose to play soccer initially. I’ve also always been good at it, and so playing with them, and being able to put the work in on the field has been really fun for me.
TS: Has being a senior changed your outlook on anything?
JW: I feel like being a senior has helped me start to be more of a role model for the younger kids, but honestly not much has changed because I’ve always tried to be helpful and hard-working during practice and in our games. So not a whole lot has changed now that I’m a senior, but it’s definitely provided me with some new insight.

We don’t have a lot of the superstar players that we had last year, but we have far more chemistry as a team.”

— Jimmy Walker

TS: It’s your last soccer season at McCallum. Have you felt like this is a good season to end your career at McCallum yet?
JW: I’m feeling good about it. Our record hasn’t been as good as we’d hoped so far, but I have no doubt we’ll be coming back. I also really like the team that we’ve put together this year, and how everyone plays and interacts with each other. I’m really excited to see how the team performs this year and how we grow as a unit. We definitely lost some talent on the field last year with the graduating seniors, but we’re bringing our all to this season and improving with every game we play.

TS: What are your plans for the future? Do you plan to play in college?
JW: The colleges I’m looking at don’t really have a division team, but most of them have club teams, so I’ll probably try out for a club team, see if I like the guys there, and the energy there, and see if that’s something I’d want to do. I haven’t decided on anything just yet. I’ve been looking at the University of Oregon and the University of Washington.
TS: What are your goals for the season?
JW: Our team hasn’t been doing as well as I’d hoped, so I want to turn that around. … We don’t have a lot of the superstar players that we had last year, but we have far more chemistry as a team, and I’m pretty confident that we can get some wins this season because of that.