Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Family rallies behind Wildcat’s football dream

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 12/31/2013

Tre Walker’s family has been to every one of his football games since he was a small child, Armogen Walker, Tre’s father, said.

“I think the thing we remember, his first game I watched him in Hawaii and he was 5 years old and we haven’t’ missed a game since,” he said. “We have been really blessed to watch him since he was 5 years old up to now, 21.”

Tre Walker’s family has been to every one of his football games since he was a small child, Armogen Walker, Tre’s father, said.

“I think the thing we remember, his first game I watched him in Hawaii and he was 5 years old and we haven’t’ missed a game since,” he said. “We have been really blessed to watch him since he was 5 years old up to now, 21.”

Armogen, along with his wife, Carmen, and daughter, Jasmine, traveled to Tempe, Ariz., last weekend to watch their son’s final collegiate football game in a Kansas State University uniform. With the support of his family, Tre, a linebacker who was named a team captain at the beginning of the 2013 season, capped his Wildcat career on a high note Saturday as his team cruised to a 31-14 win over the Michigan Wolverines in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

“It means a lot [for my family to be there],” Tre Walker said. “A lot of players on our team right now don’t have that. To be in that environment where you have nerves and you could always be a nervous wreck, to have your family there to calm you down is huge. And I am so thankful that they give me that competitive advantage and know that no matter where I am they are going to be there. It helps me focus a lot.”

Armogen Walker, who has been the pastor at Bethany Chapel Baptist Church, 135 S. Poplar St., Ottawa, for more than eight years, said it was great to be there for his son’s final collegiate game.

The family has always been enthusiastic about supporting Walker’s football endeavors, Jasmine Walker, 24, said.

“Playing football has always been a dream of Tre’s,” she said. “As a family, we all just decided to rally around him in pursuit of that dream. To see him go from elementary, to middle school, to high school and to college and be so successful has just been an exciting moment for us every step of the way. To be blessed with opportunities to support him as much as we do and see him at his highest moments has been more than we can ask for.”

One of Tre Walker’s great achievements — Saturday’s game — just so happened to be K-State’s first bowl win since 2002. The victory was one of his favorite moments of the year and a great way to finish his four-year career starting on the Wildcat defense, he said.

“It was a defining moment in my K-State career,” Walker said. “It was a great feeling to cap off all four years. We had gone about 11 years without winning a bowl game. We never really finished strong like that. To finish strong on my senior year and finally get that win, it felt great.”

The win wasn’t the only thing that felt great. The warm Arizona weather mixed with the fan turnout made for a great setting for Walker’s final game, he said.

“It was a great atmosphere,” Walker said. “You are talking about 65 to 70 degrees at 7 or 8 p.m. at night. The stadium was rocking. Michigan brought a lot of fans, and K-State of course brought a lot of fans. To be out there in that great weather and great atmosphere with great people was fun.”

The four-year player from Olathe amassed 28 total tackles this season, including 2.5 tackles for a loss. After recording 47 and 52 tackles during his freshman and sophomore years respectively for the Wildcats, Walker suffered a season-ending injury to his right knee midway through his junior year.

Walker’s two favorite moments from his senior year were hoisting the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl trophy on stage, and his first game back from his injury, he said.

“The first game I came back and all the training I had gone through for my leg [was one of my favorite memories],” Walker said. “I wasn’t limping and I wasn’t feeling any setbacks. Everybody knows I had a season-ending injury last year. We play for such a great fan base and great coach. To come back and play in that great stadium down there in Manhattan felt great.”

Walker also praised the fans for welcoming him back after his injury in style.

“Words can’t express how you feel when you come out of that tunnel and have 50,000-plus fans screaming and yelling for you and cheering for you win, lose or draw,” he said. “I have nothing but respect for all of the K-State fans.”

While the bowl win for Kansas State was huge, Walker is no newbie to capping off endings of parts of his football career in winning fashion. As a senior at Olathe North High School in 2009, the team won its first 6A state football championship in six years.

“It is kind of crazy to think that my senior year of high school we won the state championship and restored order up at Olathe North, and then coming back to K-State and finally on my senior year we get a trophy,” Walker said. “It shows that all of your hard work hasn’t been in vain. You can push forward and succeed at anything you want to do in life, you just have to work at it.”

And Walker will continue to work at expanding his football career, he said. Though he is gearing up for K-State’s Pro Day, as well as the National Football League Combine in the off-season, Walker said he is thankful for the many options he has to fall back on if his football career doesn’t pan out.

“As of right now, it has been nothing but football,” he said. “We are getting ready to train for our Pro Day. It is definitely go time and get ready for the combine and all those types of things.

“I am working on an agribusiness degree and I’m truly blessed that I can fall back on that. I’ve also been doing some professional speaking and motivational speaking, and that has really opened the door to a lot of opportunities as well.

“Right now it is a lot of open options. If football doesn’t work out, it isn’t the end of the world. I am definitely thankful for the opportunity to move forward thanks to my studies.”

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