Family Motivates Walker To Leave Ole Miss Track Program

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM (Photo By Matthew Sharpe)
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
(Photo By Matthew Sharpe)
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Feb. 28, 2012

OXFORD, Miss. – For Joe Walker, family comes first.

After three decades of developing national champions for the Ole Miss Track and Field program, Walker will step away following the 2012 season with plans to join his oldest son, Joe III, on the Louisville track staff.

“I will always be an Ole Miss Rebel,” said Walker, who is in his 30th season over two stints as the Rebel head coach. “I have thoroughly loved and appreciated being a part of Ole Miss and Oxford. However, the opportunity to coach alongside my son and be with my grandchildren is too precious an opportunity to pass up. I have given my heart and soul to Ole Miss, and Ole Miss will always be in me.”

“It is hard to imagine Ole Miss without Joe Walker,” said Athletics Director Pete Boone. “Joe has been a model of consistency, and a mentor for many of our coaches. We appreciate his endless contributions to Ole Miss, and we look forward to building on the foundation of success he has established.”

One of the most respected coaches in the country, Walker has produced countless SEC champions, NCAA champions and Olympians during his more than four decades of coaching.

As the Rebels’ head coach, he has guided his teams to 11 top-20 national finishes, including six times in the last five seasons, and is a six-time SEC Coach of the Year honoree. His pupils have earned All-America recognition 115 times, including 12 NCAA individual championships.

The Mississippi native has mentored NCAA champions during each of his head coaching stops at Ole Miss, Florida and Mississippi College. At least one of his athletes or former athletes participated in every Olympic Games from 1976-2000 and then again in 2008. His love for teaching and mentoring young people to excel on the track and in all areas of life was rewarded in 2002 when he was named the USOC National Track and Field Coach of the Year.

Walker has coached athletes to 71 SEC individual championships (58 at Ole Miss, 13 at Florida) and eight SEC relay championships. Twice his relay teams have broken the SEC record. He coached the high scorer at the SEC Championships six times in his career at Ole Miss, including 2012 SEC Indoor Championships high scorer Ricky Robertson.

A long jump specialist, Walker coached the famous Larry Myricks, who made four Olympic teams; Ralph Spry, the first-ever Ole Miss track and field NCAA champion; Tisha Parker, who at the time held the SEC outdoor record and was the first Ole Miss female to win an SEC title; Savante' Stringfellow, who won three NCAA titles and had a great international career while making the 2000 Olympic team; Shantel Glass and Charles Bailey, who won SEC titles; and Marquita Aldridge, who was also on the USA world junior team.

Most recently, Walker coached quite possibly the greatest Rebel female athlete, as he helped Brittney Reese become the most decorated women’s track athlete in school history. As a sophomore in 2007, Reese won both indoor and outdoor SEC titles in the long jump, was the NCAA runner-up in the long jump and finished eighth at the USA World Championships. In her final season at Ole Miss in 2008 before turning pro, Reese captured the SEC titles in the long jump and high jump en route to winning the SEC Commissioner's Trophy for accumulating the most points during the course of the meet. Her 31 points scored were the most by any athlete in school history. Reese went on to become the first female in school history to win an individual NCAA Championship as she accomplished the feat in the long jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships. She also finished third in the high jump and was named an NCAA All-American in both events.

Reese continued her dominance under Walker at the SEC Outdoor Championships as she was crowned the SEC Champion in the long jump. With that distinction, Reese became just the third athlete in school history to win back-to-back SEC Championships. Once again, she also captured the SEC Commissioner's Trophy and finished the weekend with 27.25 points. Reese went on to win her second NCAA title of the season as she was named the NCAA Champion and an All-American in the long jump when she recorded a mark of 22-09.00 to equal the longest jump in the world at that time. Reese capped her sensational season by finishing first in the long jump at the U.S. Olympic Trials with a school record leap of 22-09.75, becoming the fourth track and field athlete in school history to compete for the United States in any Olympic Games. Reese finished fifth in the long jump at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and was the top American finisher in the event. In 2009 she established herself as the top female long jumper in the World with victories at the World Championships and World Athletic Final and finished the season with the longest jump in the world with a 23-03.50 leap. She again won the long jump at the 2010 and 2011 World Championships, establishing herself as the world's best in the event.

Walker has also seen success in the hurdles. Early in his career, Walker coached Tony Dees, who won the 1992 Olympic silver medal. Antwon Hicks won two NCAA indoor 60 hurdle titles and one NCAA 110 meter runner-up finish, was a World Junior Champion and a semi-finalist in the 2004 Olympic Trials. John Yarbrough won the SEC indoor 60 meter hurdle title in 2007 and was the MidEast NCAA 110 meter hurdle champion en route to a runner-up finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. More recently, Lee Ellis Moore was a two-time All-American and the 2011 SEC Champion in the 400 meter hurdles.

Over the years, Walker's teams have traditionally been outstanding in the classroom as well as on the track. Calvin Thigpen was a Rhodes Scholar and a GTE Academic-All American. Kirui was named to the Academic All-American team in 2007 and 2011, and Moore earned Academic All-American accolades in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Sofie Persson joined that group in 2011.

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Blog
    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- March 1

      Sunday, March 1, 2015 - Athletics

      The calendar turned to March, as the men's and women's basketball teams march toward the SEC Tournament and postseason play. The baseball team faced perhaps its biggest challenge of nonconference play. The softball and men's tennis teams each had another... read more

    • Rebels Look to Add to NCAA Tournament Case

      Sunday, March 1, 2015 - Women's Basketball

      The numbers and bracket projections may not be in his favor at this point, but head women's basketball coach Matt Insell is selling the NCAA Tournament selection committee on his team passing the eye test, as Ole Miss enters its... read more

    • Kennedy, Rebels Look to Flush LSU Loss

      Saturday, February 28, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      BATON ROUGE, La. -- With an opportunity to perhaps lock itself into the NCAA Tournament, or at the very least enhance its resume, Ole Miss lost back-to-back games for the first time all season, falling on the road at LSU... read more

    • Rebels Look to Enhance NCAA Tournament Resume

      Saturday, February 28, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      Despite the most recent home loss to Georgia on Wednesday night, Ole Miss remains a team projected to be solidly in the field, as the Rebels put their school record four-game SEC road winning streak on the line when they... read more

    • PHOTOS: Ole Miss Snow Day 2015

      Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - Athletics

      Here's a collection of snow days photos from Ole Miss Athletics Photographer Josh McCoy (@OleMissPix):The Pavillion at Ole Miss in winter! #SnowDay2015 #WAOM @OleMissSports @OleMissMBB @OleMissWBB pic.twitter.com/nHyhVPlDvG-- OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) February 25, 2015 Awweeee.... #SnowDay2015 #WAOM @OleMissSports @OleMissFB pic.twitter.com/R1BDZ0shvS-- OleMissPix (@OleMissPix)... read more

    • VIDEO: The Flagship Football Promo

      Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - Football

      read more

    • Rebels Ready for Rematch with Georgia

      Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      If recent history is any indication, Ole Miss and Georgia are likely to go down to the wire on Wednesday night. Four of the last five meetings over the last three seasons have been decided by five points or less,... read more

    • VIDEO: The Pavilion Time Lapse

      Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      read more

    • Golson, Prewitt Compete at NFL Combine

      Monday, February 23, 2015 - Football

      The defensive backs, including former Ole Miss players Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt, participated in on-field workouts at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine on Monday in Indianapolis. Looking ahead, Ole Miss will hold its annual pro day on March 5... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Feb. 17-23, 2015)

      Monday, February 23, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review Feb. 17-23, 2015 Men's Basketball - Ole Miss posted a 2-0 mark last week with a 71-65 win at Mississippi State and a 59-57 victory over Tennessee. The Rebels improved to 10-4 in the... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Feb. 22

      Sunday, February 22, 2015 - Athletics

      Despite winter weather that affected many teams, it was a busy week for Ole Miss athletics. The men's basketball completed a 2-0 week and has positioned itself well entering the last two weeks of the regular season. The baseball, women's... read more

    • Bramlett Impresses in First Two Starts Back

      Sunday, February 22, 2015 - Baseball

      After missing the end of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season due to recovery from a torn labrum, sophomore right-hander Brady Bramlett has been brilliant in his first two outings back in 2015, fanning 19 batters through 12.0... read more

    • VIDEO: Rebel Locker Room by Lids

      Saturday, February 21, 2015 - Athletics

      read more

    • Rebels Look to Complete Thursday-Saturday Sweep

      Saturday, February 21, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      For the second time in as many weeks, Ole Miss embarks on a Thursday-Saturday swing, returning home to host Tennessee on Saturday after a 71-65 win on Thursday at Mississippi State. During the previous week, Ole Miss was on the... read more

    • Moody's Career Night Lifts Ole Miss Past MSU

      Thursday, February 19, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The game hung in the balance.  Mississippi State had just regained a 54-52 lead with 6:25 left, taking advantage of a 6-0 run. Head coach Andy Kennedy challenged his team, and junior guard Stefan Moody answered the... read more