Board hires new basketball coach
Tonganoxie High School's new boys basketball coach plans to emphasize work ethic among his players.
David Walker, who has been an assistant coach since 1999, was hired Monday night to replace Mike Webb, who resigned in May.
"For now, I'm going to keep doing what we've been doing," Walker said. "When Mike resigned, we kept going as if things were in stride."
Superintendent Richard Erickson praised the new coach.
"He's certainly done a fantastic job as an assistant over the past two or three years," Erickson said. "He's had some excellent experience as head coach with the West Franklin School District in Pomona, Kan.
"Coach Walker has done a great job with summer camps and working to establish summer basketball leagues," he said. "He has a great work ethic and I'm looking forward to seeing him establish a strong tradition with the Tonganoxie basketball program.
Walker, 34, said he hopes to see improvement among his players during the summer.
"I think, for the most part, in the off-season they'll all get better individually," Walker said. "There are plenty of opportunities to play this summer. We'll start focusing on some changes in the fall. With new coaches, there's always new ideas and new things. It's still too early for that."
Walker is elated about his new job.
"I'm happy, very happy and excited," he said. "There's a lot of things that I want to get started on. I feel a little bit like a kid with a new toy."
Although Walker will continue many of the traditions that Webb set, he said he hopes to change some ideas and philosophies.
"I'd like to concentrate primarily on work ethic," Walker said. "I'd like to get the most out of the kids that I can and focus on working hard as a team."
Walker, who is working toward a master's degree as a library media specialist from an Olathe branch of Pittsburg State University, was the head boys basketball coach at West Franklin from 1994 to 1999. Walker left the position at West Franklin to be closer to his wife's family.
He's eager to return to the leadership role with a team.
"It feels good," Walker said. "I am fortunate that Coach Webb allowed me to do a lot of things that some assistant coaches don't get to do. I never felt totally out of the picture. I was confident that if the opportunity arose for me to be a head coach again, I could do it."
Walker played basketball in high school and at Fort Osage State in Missouri. From there, he played four years at Ottawa University. He graduated in 1990.
Fresh out of college, he worked for the United Parcel Service and was simultaneously an assistant coach at Fort Osage. Then he was an assistant coach at St. Pius High School. Following that, Walker was a women's assistant coach at Ottawa University.
During the past school year, he taught biology and chemistry at THS. Next year he will probably teach only biology.
Walker is looking forward to striking a balance with his team.
"I would like everything to go smoothly," Walker said. "I want to get started but, at the same time, make sure everything is ready to go and not jump in too soon."