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Walkers vision extends far beyond the Explosion
Darrell Walker has lived in Marysville for 23 years. He starred on the M-P High School team before attending Everett Community College for two years.
Playing for his father Larry Walker at ECC gave Darryl the chance to jump to a Division I program after two junior college basketball seasons. This past year Walker, a pillar in the Marysville basketball community, took on the challenge of leading the Everett Explosion in their inaugural season in the IBL.
It was a busy year, said Walker, Besides playing ball, I was teaching full time and assisting my dad in coaching. Plus my wife and I just had a little girl of our own.
Events on the court were easy for Walker compared to the stress of daily living. Walkers wife Abby developed a melanoma and needed treatment during Darrells season.
Shes a trooper, continued Walker. It was a lot to deal with all at once but shes doing well now.
Abbys recovery helped Darrell relax a bit. It also helped having such good friends on the Explosion. On court, Walker enjoyed playing with old comrade and fellow teacher Corby Shue amongst other members of the team.
The Explosion was a great group of guys. Everybody knew their roles, which got established early on, Walker stated, We really got along well together on the court. If the situation is right, Id love to play for them again next year.
Walker reaped plenty of the benefits of being a local celebrity by playing for the Explosion. He did not however, always feel comfortable being viewed as such.
My kids at the middle school already look up to me as a teacher. When I started playing on the team it was almost a celebrity status. I dont want to think of myself along those lines by any means. Kids started recognizing me more as a basketball player than a teacher. I was just happy for an opportunity to play basketball because I love basketball.
Walkers commitment to his community goes far beyond the court. He is not satisfied with simply being viewed as a player. Walker eventually would like to enhance his stature as a role model.
Id really like to start my own basketball camps. In the long run, the best reason to play for the Explosion is to reach out into the community. Im looking forward to doing more than being an athlete. Im already working with the Boys and Girls Club, doing three-on-three stuff in the area.
Walker also owns a chain of coffee shops in Marysville, which he hopes to expand upon. His wife Abby does much of the work behind the coffee stands, but Walkers name gets plenty of attention.
People come to the stands and ask about the Explosion. A lot of people came to the games or followed through the Internet or in the papers.
The stands benefited from the exposure, but Walker again feels the need to branch out beyond.
Ultimately Im a Christian guy, said Walker, With the camps, Id like to gear them to be a positive influence. I want to share a sense of balance with these kids who dont necessarily see it on a day-to-day basis. I want to show them that life is more than the sports they play or the music they listen to. I want to help them see that life can be about helping others as well as making the right decisions for themselves.
As a middle school teacher, Walker watches kids just beginning to make the decisions of character that will affect their lives.
You get them in high school and it might be a little too late. Theyve made up their minds as to who they want to be. Being a health and fitness teacher, I strive to get them to consider being more active, being healthy and making choices.
Walker himself dealt with some health issues as the Explosion season wore on.
Toward the end I was playing with some injuries, but Ill be healthy before the start of next season. I feel like I could be in better shape at the start of the season.
Walker sees good things for the future of the franchise. After going through the bumps and potholes that any minor league expansion team must face the club is in better shape for next season.
Walker also sees big things in the future for himself. His commitment to making a difference locally supersedes his on-court persona. Walker will continue to impact the lives of kids in Marysville long after his days on the court have ended.