Taking the Long Road

Oct. 12, 2001

by Josh Griffin, The Santa Clara

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara men's soccer aficionados may recognize junior Jamil Walker as the brilliant two-year starting forward in the Bronco offensive attack. Few, however, realize the circuitous path that Walker has blazed to arrive at the Mission campus.

Walker was born to Jamaican parents, Hugh and Paulette Walker, in Fairfax, Va. on April 21, 1980. He got an early start in soccer, playing for a team coached by his father beginning at the age of five. After 11 years in Virginia, the Walker family moved on to Rochester, Ny. , where Jamil went on to star for McQuaid Jesuit High School.

As a senior at McQuaid Jesuit, Walker led the team both as the captain and in the statistics. His 15 goals and seven assists were enough to earn him City Catholic League Player of the Year, as well as honorable all-star recognition. Off the field, he maintained a solid 3.5 grade point average.

Upon his graduation from high school, Walker made the immense transition from Rochester to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. He followed in the footsteps of his older brother Shaka, who had been a two-year letterman at the Academy. One season at the Academy turned out well on the soccer field, but away from soccer, many of his plans changed.

"At the time, I thought that it was the best step to take toward reaching my goals of the time, which were mainly to become a doctor," Walker said.

Despite his early successes at the Academy on the field, in which he scored three goals and had one assist, Walker eventually decided to transfer from the Academy. All three of those goals came in one game versus Oregon State, the final of which was the game winner with 47 seconds remaining.

"I ended up becoming interested in computer engineering at Air Force, and eventually reevaluated what I wanted to do," Walker said. "That atmosphere wasn't for me."

As he settles in for his second season as a starting forward for the Santa Clara Broncos, all the travels in Walker's life seem to be paying off. He is enjoying being at Santa Clara, and having the opportunity to play along side his younger brother, sophomore Rahim Walker.

"Santa Clara turned out to be a good choice. I like all the people, the school, and the soccer team is awesome," Walker said.

His success was accentuated early last season, when he finished second on the team in scoring with four goals, and served as one of the steadiest components of the offensive attack. Two of his goals (against Alabama A&M and Cal Poly) turned out to be game winners, continuing his tendency for clutch goal scoring.

In the season at hand, Walker sees the potential for greatness, but is looking for the team to begin to capitalize on that potential.

"This year, we are so close to being one of the best teams in the nation," Walker said. "Right now, we're putting in a lot of hard work to find our groove, and have found some disappointment in the process. But it will pull through."

With the well-traveled Walker leading the offensive pack, the firepower is bound to shine through.