Leading the BGSU women's soccer team onto the pitch this next fall will be new head coach Jimmy Walker. Walker, a native of Birmingham, England, brings a wealth of knowledge to the Falcons program from many different aspects of the soccer world.
It’s no fluke that Walker grew up to be a soccer coach — his father James was Director of Sports Science for Aston Villa for 15 years. His father also played for Derby County and won two EPL Championship Crowns.
“I think the biggest things I learned from him were sacrifice and commitment. I learned at a young age that if you want to be successful you've got to put the work in. The sacrifices these players make are important as they are always trying to evolve,” Walker said.
Walker has spent time coaching in various spots, especially in the state of Ohio. His previous stops include Tiffin, Duquesne, Penn State and most recently Findlay where he took his team to the Division II Tournament Regional Semi-Final.
“At Findlay I learned you can be successful and enjoy it at the same time,” Walker said. “It's good to be serious and there are many times to be serious but you also need to have fun while you're doing it.”
Throughout his journey, Walker has coached teams that did not have access to the same resources and facilities as the Falcons.
“My first experience as a head coach was the most eye-opening. We had limited resources and I had to be creative. I didn't appreciate how much work went into coaching. You are always preparing,” he said. “Bowling Green’s facilities are fabulous and I'm thankful to get to work with them.”
One thing easing the transition from Findlay to Bowling Green for Walker and his family was the fact that they already were living in Bowling Green when the opportunity was presented.
“Not having to rebuild was really nice. I have two daughters in school so they got to stay where they were. The first seven weeks have gone smoothly,” Walker said.
Another facet making the move easier was Walker's relationship with previous women's coach Matt Fannon.
“He is a colleague of mine,” Coach Walker said. “We've been friends for around 10 years and would get coffee together while he was at Bowling Green. It's good to pick other coaches' brains. I have a great relationship with coach Fannon and I want to continue the culture here.”
Walker wants to continue the success Fannon started at BGSU, and that starts with maintaining the culture. The Falcons women's soccer team has routinely reached the NCAA tournament, and now they have their eyes set on getting past the opening round.
“My expectations for this year are to go to the tournament and win a game. We've been four times and haven't won a game so that's the next step for us,” Walker said. “We are fortunate to have quality student-athletes as good players but also good people. We have talented ladies and a supportive administration. I'm excited for the challenge.”
Walker admitted that taking over a program at such a high point like the women's Falcon team is nice, but the expectations don't make a difference. He's determined to continue building upon the culture and reach that next step for the program.