SALISBURY – Catawba College has announced that Curtis Walker, a former All-American player for the Indians, has accepted the position of head football coach. The announcement was made today by Brien Lewis, Catawba’s president.
Walker, defensive coordinator at Western Carolina University since last January, follows Chip Hester, who resigned on Nov. 16 after 11 seasons. Hester will remain at Catawba as Director of Athletic Development, replacing Gordon Kirkland who is retiring at the end of December.
“We are very pleased to welcome Coach Walker back home to Catawba,” said President Lewis. “Our football program is such an integral part of our campus life that it was important for us to find someone of great integrity with an outstanding record of success. With Coach Walker, we will begin 2013 with high expectations.”
Catawba Athletic Director Dennis Davidson is also pleased with the selection. “Not only is Curtis Walker a Catawba Hall of Famer, he is a great football coach. Our student athletes should be inspired by someone who has not only walked in their shoes, but also achieved All-American status as a player and a great reputation as a coach.”
Walker was a four-year starter and three-time All-American linebacker for Catawba in 1989-92. He was inducted into the Catawba Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and into the South Atlantic Conference Hall of Fame in 2008. Walker was Catawba’s team most valuable player in 1991 and served as team captain in 1992.
Walker still holds the Catawba single game record for tackles with 25 stops against Wofford in 1991. He also still owns the all-time single season record for fumble recoveries with six, also set in 1991.
Following graduation from Catawba and a two-year coaching period at Salisbury High School, Walker joined David Bennett’s staff at Catawba in 1995. He coached the linebackers and began coordinating all recruiting in 1997. Walker was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2001 and the Indians were ranked first in Division II in scoring defense and 15 th in total defense.
At Catawba while on Bennett’s staff, Walker was a part of three South Atlantic Conference championships (1996, 2000 and 2001) and three NCAA playoff appearances (1999, 2000 and 2001). The Indians were a combined 22-3 in 2000-01, a lot of the success due to a suffocating defense. Catawba allowed just 13.5 points per game during those 25 games.
When Bennett left to begin the football program at Coastal Carolina in December 2001, following a season in which the Indians advanced to the NCAA Division II national semifinals, Walker followed to coordinate the defense. Walker, who also coordinated the special teams, remained at Coastal until December 2011.
During Walker’s 10 seasons in Conway, the Chanticleers had 44 All-Big South accolades as Coastal Carolina captured three consecutive Big South Conference titles (2004-2006).
Walker joined the Western Carolina staff in January of this year, on the staff of first-year head coach Mark Speir. Walker’s responsibilities included preparing practice schedules, opponent breakdowns, game week strategies and a defensive game plan for each opponent, in addition to recruiting North Carolina and Virginia.
A native of Burlington, Walker was a two-time football all-conference performer at Graham High School, prior to graduating in 1988. He was the Mid-State Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 1987.
Walker and his wife, Sheka, a Rowan County native and Winston Salem State University alumna, have two sons, Jalon and Curtis, Jr.