Coached By: Joe Cuozzo
Chris Walker received his first lacrosse stick in sixth grade from Ward Melville legend Charlie Brown, who happened to live across the street from him. Brown, was an athletic icon in school, playing point guard for the basketball team, quarterback for the football team and goalie for the lacrosse squad. He was a great athletic example to idolize.
"All the kids on the block looked up to him," Walker remembers.
The following year, Walker bought a new stick from the old Herman"s sporting goods store at the Smithaven Mall and things began to blossom from there. He was a mediocre midfielder at first, but switched to defense by the summer after his sophomore season.
"It was one of those moments where I felt more comfortable at that vantage point," he says.
He played at Melville at a time when it was almost exclusive for all seniors to start, thus leaving Walker to play on man-down situations and mop up scenarios when possible. By his senior year things changed; he was the shining defender on the club, and had great cradling ability with both hands - something Joe Cuozzo likes.
For Walker, he was cognizant of Cuozzo from junior high, realizing he lived in a special district where the players are "predestined to be competitive" in the program.
"It permeated its way down to the seventh graders," he recalls. "It was just cool to be on that team. We used to go and watch the varsity play when we were in junior high. It was intoxicating to a young kid to say we want to be like those guys one day. It was like pro sports for us out in Stony Brook."
He played on competitive teams that won the Long Island title his junior and senior seasons. Though stats aren"t too important for defenders, he did score eight goals and added five assists in his high school career, and believe it or not, his 13 points are still the Melville record for defensive scoring.
Walker wasn"t aware of the Ray Enners Award prior to winning it in 1983. Like many of the winners, he said it wasn"t something glorified or spoken about much, but when he won it, he was honored and still feels that way today. He was named an All-American that year, too.
He took his leadership ability to the University of North Carolina and by a stroke of luck started every game of his collegiate career. He actually gave Johns Hopkins a verbal commitment, but he felt more comfortable in the UNC setting.
Things worked out for the best. He won a National Championship in 1986, but Hopkins won titles the other three years he played college ball.
"I would have been kicking myself if I didn"t get the one," he jokes now.
Aside from winning the title, Walker says beating Virginia in sudden death overtime during the first ever final-four weekend in college lacrosse history was pretty special.
He was a three-time All-American, a captain his senior season and the winner of his team"s Needham Unsung Hero award in 1987. He ranks fifth in career ground balls at UNC with 299, was a co-winner of the team"s Holmes Harden Sr. Memorial Award for most ground balls on the team in 1986 and shared the team"s Jay Gallagher Award as outstanding freshman in 1984. He was an All-ACC selection in 1985.
Today, Walker lives in Baltimore where he works in finance and is an assistant coach on his son"s lacrosse team.