Honoring Former Ole Miss Track Coach Joe Walker

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Walker,Joe_040911_JB.jpgFour Olympians and a number of other elite college and professional athletes will be competing on the Ole Miss campus at this weekend's Joe Walker Invitational track & field meet.

How fitting that it's named for the former Rebel coach who mentored a number of athletes to Olympic status during his 30-year career in Oxford.

Walker, who serves as an assistant coach for jumpers at Louisville since his retirement from Ole Miss, is universally known for his warm and caring personality in addition to his penchant for training world-class jumpers and hurdlers.

Having developed such talents as Olympic gold medalist and NCAA champion Brittney Reese, Olympian and NCAA champion Savante' Stringfellow, Olympian Ricky Robertson, NCAA champion Antwon Hicks and many others, Walker is world-renowned for his coaching abilities. The Mississippi native also maintains a humble attitude about it all.

"The coaching staff at Ole Miss reached out to me about the name for this meet," Walker said. "I just felt real humbled and honored that they would think to do that."

In 30 seasons at the helm of the Ole Miss program, Walker led the Rebels to 11 top-20 national finishes, 124 All-America honors, 12 NCAA individual champions and 60 SEC individual titles. But it wasn't always easy.

"When I started at Ole Miss we didn't have a track of any sort," Walker recalls. "Then we had a decent one but not great. Then we went two-and-a-half years with no track again while they built the indoor practice facility."

The current Ole Miss Track & Field Complex was completed in 2003 and hosted the 2004 Southeastern Conference Championships. Walker has fond memories of the time he spent at the facility.

"I always felt like the layout and closeness of everything was good. The coaches' offices are right there, all in one place. Across the street is the training room and weight room. The layout is conducive to watching and coaching. Once we got that I thought I was in paradise.

"Folks that have come to that track have seen some world-class athletes, that's for sure."

Though he no longer coaches at Ole Miss, the 2016 M-Club Alumni Hall of Fame honoree finds plenty of time to follow the program and its success under second-year head coach Connie Price-Smith and her staff.

"I'm so excited," Walker said. "They are doing a phenomenal job. They're got Ole Miss just rocking and rolling. I'm so proud for them and Ole Miss. I'm glad to have been a part of it, and now I'm an active fan."

In the five years since he's been at Louisville, Walker has enjoyed the time he gets to spend with his children and grandchildren, as well as continuing to coach collegiate jumpers.

"Basically all my family's up in this area. My youngest son is in Dayton, Ohio, and the other two sons are right here in Louisville. The grandkids are growing up so fast, I can't believe it. It's been a good situation for us, really positive."

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    Tiffany J. Moore said:

    This is amazing with what he have done so far! Hope that he'll achieve more in the future!

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    Fiftyyears fan said:

    How can you have five straight top 25 recruiting classes and look as bad as Ole Miss has this year. Easy lack of coaching fundamentals. Look at Mason at Vandy, nothing but 2 and 3 star recruits out of high school and he developers players that want to win. Hugh freeze has 3, 4 & 5 recruits and he expects them to win because of what they were in High School. Mr. Freeze you have not been teaching the fundamentals of football or winning in life. Mr. Freeze you have quit on your players because you have some false expectations of what they are instead of what you can develop in them. Either do your job or quit. Oh yea, please quit running your smoke and mirrors offense, everyone has figured it out. Run a physical offense that can open up holes for your running backs and then your pass attack want require 12 are 14 four and five star receivers. Mr. Freeze you have problems and you need to know that you are not smarter than the rest of the coaches in the SEC.

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    Karen Holden said:

    Not every pass can be caught. Too low, too short whatever. Not every Kelly pass is perfect. Records were broken by receivers also. But they sre not going to catch every ball thrown. The loss to Auburn was not one players fault. You win or lose as a team.

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    Trent browning said:

    Hey I was just wandering if these are the only 2 olemiss players signing. If there are more signing please respond to me ASAP. Also wondering if neil everett will sign any autographs. Thank you very much

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