JD Walker’s postseason

PALS teacher and former football coach reflects on 18 years with Allen ISD

Francis Salazar, Feature editor

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Current PALS teacher and former football coach JD Walker has been with Allen for 18 years. In those 18 years, Walker has seen Allen grow into the school that it is today.

Arriving in Allen from Oklahoma in 2002, Allen was a different place. Both Stacy Road and Highway 121 were two-lane streets, and Allen High had only been running since 1999. According to Walker, Allen was a lot like Stillwater: there were open fields one would have to wait on tractors to pass, and there was a lot of open area.

“With the PALS program, there were eleven elementaries that we would go out and mentor to,  and two middle schools,” Walker said. “[Allen] went from 11 elementary schools to now [where] we have 18. We just expanded in that way. Then of course the numbers, a lot of these classrooms were empty at the high school here when we first started. We’ve grown over the years.”

From being a coach of football and track, and a mentor for the PALS program, Walker is a witness of how Allen has adapted over the years. For the majority of his career at Allen, Walker was a coach on the football team, helping lead the team to many wins. But this year, he stepped down from that position.

“This is the first year that I haven’t coached in 18 years,” said Walker. “I’ve coached track and football. Until 2008 I was the running backs coach and then went over to the defensive side and was a second secondary coach and the special teams coordinator from 2011 to 2017. I was part of all the state championships, and it was unbelievable to kids that I’ve got to mentor and coach as well, and got to be part of that.”

Walker doesn’t see himself going back to coaching. Instead, he’s enjoying life as a full-time PALS teacher and the extra time he has for his family.

“I mean I’m happy that [coaching] fulfilled a large part of my life,” said Walker. “Football was my life for so long, but now I’m kind of taking a step back and and I’m really having fun with what I’m doing now and growing [the PALS] program, and I get to kind of be a dad again. I’ve got a junior daughter playing tennis ,and then a sixth grader that’s also playing tennis too,  so I get to go to watch their matches. I had to miss some of those because of football and practice or games that we had, so I get to be a dad have a few more hours.”

Though Allen has undoubtedly changed through the years, Walker has been here for it all, and said he enjoys seeing the growth of Allen today.

“My wife and I kind of kid around that this is a bird’s nest in the ground,” said Walker. “This is Utopia; it doesn’t get any better.  As as a public school and public school setting, it’s as good as it gets.”

 

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