COVID-19 has heavily impacted many things across the world, and at BGSU, things are no different. Even though there are no fall sports in the MAC, BGSU women’s soccer has been hard at work.
One year ago, women’s soccer was into the heart of the season on their way to a second consecutive MAC Championship. But since then, the curtain has closed and there has been a changing of the guard. Now the team has welcomed in a new leader, head coach Jimmy Walker.
Walker has spent more than 25 years coaching soccer in various locations, most recently just 25 miles south of BGSU at the University of Findlay. After multiple successful seasons at Findlay, Walker emerged as the top candidate for the BGSU job after the departure of Matt Fannon to Iowa State.
Walker brought with him three new coaches, Dani Johnson, Scott Rissler and Erik Van Der Meulen. Each coach brings a different skill set to the staff and this balance is crucial to have success on the field, he said.
“I think we’ve created a really nice balance between the coaching staff and it has made the girls feel really comfortable very quickly,” Walker said.
Unable to have a spring season this year after being shut down, coaching staff had time to catch up on things that they were behind on, such as recruiting. And even though in-person gathering numbers were limited over the summer, it allowed the team and coaching staff to get to know each other better through avenues such as zoom meetings.
Walker brought in six freshman recruits and two transfer players from Ohio State. As far as the roster he inherited upon arrival at BGSU, Walker was thrilled about the team of returning players.
“The cupboard isn’t empty,” Walker said, “This is the first time after a transition that I’ve had this amount of talent on a roster.”
For what makes individual players so special, Walker emphasized character, and how the current team is a group of individuals with great character that also happen to be incredibly skilled on the soccer field.
While COVID-19 has pushed fall sports to the upcoming spring, it doesn’t mean Walker and his team are just sitting around this fall. They are still practicing and going through the necessary steps to be ready when the time comes to take the field for an official game.
“We’ve been training hard against each other and it has given everyone individually more opportunities to improve, but also opportunities to grow and improve as a team for the upcoming season,” Walker said.
Oftentimes, after a team consistently succeeds, it becomes expected from the fan base. After back-to-back MAC championships, the expectations remain high for women’s soccer. And Walker has set some goals of his own for the team.
“We want to turn good soccer into great soccer, continue to win conference championships and continue to advance this team and win an NCAA tournament game,” Walker said.
For now fans will have to wait to see Walker and the 2020-2021 team. Although if they want a chance at spring soccer they will have to continue to do their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19.