Gorman: Walker's winning way fueled by failures
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Before his game against North Allegheny, Butler coach Clyde Conti shot friendly fire in the direction of Art Walker.
While catching throws from Tigers quarterback Mack Leftwich in pre-game warmups, the former Clarion University All-America receiver cracked to his old coach, “Still got it.”
Conti, who gave Walker his first coaching job at Clarion-Limestone, reminded the North Allegheny coach that Baldwin had an 0-9 record during Walker's senior season.
“If you're going to insult me, get it right,” Walker shot back. “It was 0-10.”
Walker, 42, has won five WPIAL Class AAAA championships, two at Central Catholic and three consecutive at North Allegheny, and is attempting to win his third PIAA championship.
For or all of his success, Walker admits that he is fueled by failure. At Baldwin, his teams endured back-to-back 0-10 seasons amid a 26-game winless streak.
“It is a motivating factor for me, I'm not going to lie,” Walker said Wednesday on my TribLIVE Radio Show. “When I started coaching, I made kind of a promise to myself that I would do everything I could to make sure that everybody who played for me, whether I was a head coach or assistant coach, did not experience what I experienced.
“It was not a lot of fun. It was not enjoyable. You worked very, very hard and spent a lot of time and effort and hours in trying your best to compete and win football games — and we didn't. We didn't win many at all.”
Thus, it's not by accident that North Allegheny has won 43 of its past 45. It's a feat that is almost as impressive as Clairton's state-record 61-game winning streak, given that the Tigers play in the state's highest classification.
The son of a legendary Mt. Lebanon coach is an excellent communicator known for his game preparation and play-calling, intensity and laser-like focus. Walker has turned the personal disappointment of his high school career into professional achievement as one of the top coaches in the WPIAL.
“I made sure that my focus is going to be to try to always put our kids in the situation to at least have an opportunity to win, to be in the game, and at least walk off the field with their heads held high, knowing they did everything they possibly could,” Walker said. “It's something I don't want to experience again. And it's something I don't want the guys who play for me or coach with me to experience, either.
“It's going to be with me. It's not so much a negative now as it is a motivating factor. I use it to understand that we're having a heck of a run with this group of kids.”
A run that Walker wants to end with another PIAA Quad-A championship. His Tigers (14-0) are in the state semifinals for the third consecutive year and need only a victory over West Lawn Wilson to play in Hershey for the PIAA title.
“Twenty years or so from now, when that time comes, they're going to be talking about him as one of the all-time greats,” Conti said. “He's that good of a coach.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Unsung backups provide boost for Steelers defensive line
- Penguins lose hard-fought game to Blue Jackets in overtime
- Run game needed for balance vs. Seahawks
- Former Pirates pitcher Happ agrees to $36 million, 3-year deal with Blue Jays
- Contractor eyes early finish to work on New Stanton interchange of Interstate 70
- Gilbert, son of ex-Pitt football standout, commits to Panthers
- Penguins notebook: Players prepared for tough schedule in minors
- Black Friday chaos dwindles thanks to earlier deals, online sales
- Jeannette trudges through blight
- Clairton among greatest WPIAL dynasties; Aliquippa, South Fayette close
- Starkey: Flashback Friday for Pitt