Walker named UW-RF football coachWhen UW-River Falls Athletic Director Roger Ternes called Matt Walker at his home in Indiana Dec. 28 to offer him the Falcon football head coaching job, Walker couldn’t wait to get started.
By: Bob Burrows, Hudson Star-Observer
When UW-River Falls Athletic Director Roger Ternes called Matt Walker at his home in Indiana Dec. 28 to offer him the Falcon football head coaching job, Walker couldn’t wait to get started.
“I was ready to take off right away but there was nobody here because school was on break,” Walker said on his first official day on the job Monday. “Today was the first day I could have started so here I am.”
Walker, a former head coach at DePauw University and most recently tight end coach at Butler University, spent a whirlwind first day on the job meeting his support staff, arranging contacts with current players and recruits and settling into his new office in Hagestad Hall. He said he knew from the start this was the right job for him.
“No. 1, this is a great school in a great place,” he said. “I’m attracted by the value of an education. Clearly, this is an environment with the potential for success, both in football and education. And I can be passionate about recruiting kids here. They will get a great education and we’re going to give them the best athletic experience we can.”
He said he’s looking forward to tapping into the university’s proximity to the Twin Cities to aid in recruiting, and doesn’t plan on wasting any time getting started.
“The first thing, short term, is to get going on recruiting,” he said. “I cannot say how much I appreciate the hard work the staff has done keeping an eye on recruiting. That’s a hard thing to do when you don’t even have a head coach yet. I’m going to start pushing and making visits, and get out and meet as many kids as I can.”
Walker said he’s also been busy trying to contact current Falcon players, which has been a challenge with the university on holiday break.
“I was hired over break when no one was on campus,” he said. “But the players I have talked to and communicated with are excited, and clearly I’m excited.”
Walker, 33, was the head football coach at DePauw University from 2006-09 and compiled a 22-8 overall record. His teams finished 13-7 in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference and placed second in the final conference standings in 2007 and 2008. From 2000-05 he was an assistant coach with the Tigers and coached running backs and wide receivers.
During the 2010 season he was an offensive assistant coach at Butler University and coached tight ends.
Walker was also the head baseball coach at DePauw from 2001-09 and led the Tigers to five conference divisional championships and to a NCAA regional berth in 2001. He was named the conference Coach of the Year in 2001.
He earned a sports science undergraduate degree from DePauw in 1999, and went on to earn his master’s degree in physical education from Indiana State in 2001. At DePauw he played football from 1997-99 as a quarterback. He also earned three letters in baseball.
Walker was an instructor of kinesiology at DePauw and will have teaching responsibilities in the UW-RF health & human performance department.
He said he is looking forward to the challenge of coaching in the WIAC.
“I’m a Division III guy, and it’s an opportunity to compete in the best conference in the nation,” he said.
He said he’s also looking forward to getting out in the community and talking to alumni and former Falcon players.
“I’m excited to talk with the alumni. I love history and respect history,” he said. “I want to talk to them about their experiences and draw from those guys. That’s important to me. I feel very honored to have this opportunity; to be a part of this Falcon football family; part of the university and the community.”
Walker said he is a firm believer that there is no replacement for hard work, and plans on setting an example for his players and staff to follow.
“That may be a cliché, but I’m going to outwork my opponent every day, whether it’s in the office calling recruits or in the locker room sorting uniforms,” he said. “We all want to win on Saturdays, and you have to start with the small approach. I want us to embrace that challenge.”
Walker thanked Ternes, assistant athletic director Crystal Lanning, who spearheaded the university’s search for a new head coach, and Chancellor Dean Van Galen for making him feel comfortable during the interview and hiring process. He said so far his experience has been nothing but positive.
“From the beginning to today, every person I’ve had conversations with talks about the great people here. I learned real quickly about the passion for this place,” he said. “Everyone I have talked to and run into have been great people. They helped me make this transition as easy as I could. The combination of all those things is the reason I’m excited about the job.”
He said he’s also excited about moving his family here. Walker and his wife, Jana, have two daughters; Kraly, 5, and Hudson, nine months.
“This is a great place to raise a family, and that’s important to me and my family,” he said. “It’s not just about football and the university, but it’s about the community. My family and I are excited to be part of this community.”
Walker, a native of Crawfordsville, Ind., will be the university’s 20th head football coach in the school’s history.