ARLINGTON — Arlington High School seniors Morgan Ginnis and Ryan Walker both signed on the dotted line in the AHS Library on Wednesday, Nov. 13, as Ginnis pledged to swim for the University of New Mexico and Walker pledged to play baseball for Washington State University.
Both AHS seniors got into their respective fields at the age of 4 — Ryan because of his father, Mark Walker, and Morgan because of her older brother, Griffin Ginnis — but they soon developed their own affinity for their sports.
“I developed a love of the game right off the bat,” Ryan Walker said.
“I wanted to do everything my brother did, but I realized I was pretty good, so I kept going,” Morgan Ginnis laughed.
Because AHS doesn’t have its own swim team, or even its own pool, Ginnis has made an almost daily commute to Federal Way to swim with the King Aquatic Club. Her toil was rewarded this past summer when she broke two national records during the Pacific Northwest Swimming Long Course Championship at Federal Way, and again later that same summer, when her performance in the Junior National Championships in Irvine, Calif., earned her the notice of a host of college coaches.
“Hard work always pays off,” Ginnis said. “The time you put in, striving toward your goals, is well worth it.”
As for Walker, he led AHS with a .437 batting average, was named All-Wesco Conference First Team as an infielder in 2013, and was a second team all-league pitcher, but he remained as modest in listing his own accomplishments as AHS Baseball Head Coach Scott Striegel had credited him with being.
“Probably my best game was just a normal game last summer against Edmonds, but I got something like 14 or 15 strikeouts,” said Walker, who expects to be on the mound when he reaches Pullman. “If you love the game, don’t quit it.”
Both students agreed that their future schools’ academic programs were at least as important as their athletics. Walker plans on pursuing a career in law enforcement, likely as a police officer, so it mattered to him that “WSU has one of the top criminal justice programs in the state.” Ginnis likewise cited the strength of University of New Mexico’s chemistry and biology programs, since she plans to become a dentist.
“She really connected with the school when she was introduced to its instructors and tutors and counselors,” said Morgan’s mother, Judy Ginnis. “She’ll get the best education at the University of New Mexico.”
At the same time, Judy Ginnis admitted that her daughter had been drawn to Kansas and Iowa, and laughed as she recalled how Morgan Instagrammed photos of herself having fun at other campuses to keep the University of New Mexico’s swim coach on his toes.
Like Judy Ginnis, AHS Principal Brian Beckley grew sentimental over how quickly Morgan had grown up, since he’d been her middle school principal before they both came to the high school.
Just as Morgan Ginnis gushed over the University of New Mexico campus, so too did Ryan Walker agree with his father Mark that his campus visit to WSU impressed upon them both how much the school was a perfect fit for Ryan.
“Everything pointed to WSU,” Mark Walker said. “Ryan’s done all the work. I’ve just made sure he got to where he needed to go.”
“Ryan’s been one of our leaders ever since he was in varsity as a sophomore,” Striegel said. “He’s a quiet kid, but he’s one of our hardest workers, and he leads by example. Nothing’s better than having your best player also be your hardest worker.”
As both AHS seniors signed their letters of intent that afternoon, their parents shared the details of their scholarships at their respective universities, with Ryan’s father Mark noting that his son’s tuition, books and fees are covered by WSU, while the Walker family pays for room and board, and Morgan’s mother Judy adding that her daughter is getting a full ride from University of New Mexico. Without those scholarships, the respective families estimated they’d have to pay between $46,000 to $48,000 a year for Morgan, and $65,000 for all four years for Ryan.