By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Championship play and championship lives.
That describes the philosophy of Ordell Walker, who was introduced on Friday as the new head football coach at Bluefield College.
“Really what that means is we want our guys to live successful and significant lives,” Walker said. “Obviously we want to be great on the football field, but it is so much more than that.
“Who they are as men, in their jobs, in their families, as community members, that is important. We want those guys to have success in the totality of their lives.”
When Bluefield College began looking for a replacement for Mike Gravier, who was fired in April, the two words heard the most was the ‘right fit.’
“We were looking for someone to fit the mission of the college,” Bluefield College Athletic Director Pete Dryer said. “We are a small Christian school, it is very much a community institution, a small town.
“We wanted somebody to come in and embrace that and embrace the community where we live, embrace the area that we live and embrace the Christian mission.”
Bluefield College President Dr. David Olive feels like Walker will do just that.
“He has, what I would say, is the right perspective, one that aligns very closely with the college’s mission,” Olive said. “We want to win football games, but it is more than just games, it is about people’s lives.
“That is what a college education and experience is all about, particularly here at Bluefield College with our Christian emphasis.”
Dryer said the search committee shifted through nearly 150 submissions for the position, but Walker was the right fit from the final three candidates for the job.
“We had three great finalists that the search committee had selected and we found great traits in all three and I wish we could have taken the best of all three and rolled them into one,” Olive said. “It is a challenging process when you have got excellent candidates, but we felt like Coach Walker had the best overall package of any of the folks that we talked with and certainly those that were in the candidate pool.”
Walker takes over a program that went 0-11 last fall, its first season on the gridiron since 1941. He arrives on campus just over two months before the Rams begin fall drills on Aug. 7, with the 2013 opener slated for Aug. 31 at Point University in Valley, Ala.
“I was a little concerned (about the timing), but what about the timing for the program I left, it certainly wasn’t good for them,” Walker said. “It is about building, I have faith in God, I have faith in these gentlemen here (Olive and Dryer) from what I have heard and observed.
“I am just ready to get started and we are going to get moving. I feel like God called me here and I am ready to move forward.”
Walker had been the head coach at Greenville College, an NCAA Division III school located in Greenville, Ill., for the last three years. He compiled a 22-9 record, won two Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) championships, and the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCCA) Victory Bowl championship in 2012.
He twice won UMAC coach of the year honors, and was the NCCAA national coach of the year last fall.
His reason for wanting the position at Bluefield College came down to one word; mission.
“This school has the same mission in how I want to impact people, it is just a great opportunity,” Walker said. “I feel like the program at my previous school is stable and I am ready for a new challenge, my family is ready for a new challenge and a new place where we can kind of start over and rebuild.
“It is really drives out of a sense of mission for God and I want to develop men who live biblical lives so that has been done at the previous place, let’s branch out and try to reproduce that in another area.
“That is why Bluefield seems to be a great match for their values and my values. They are our values now.”
Walker, who is married with two children, played at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill., and immediately went into coaching, which has always been his career of choice.
“Definitely,” he said. “I knew from day one in 1988 I decided I was going to become a college football coach so it was very clear to me.”
Walker likes challenges, and will definitely have one at Bluefield, a school that has struggled to retain football players, and had a shortage of healthy students available during its most recent spring practice.
“Probably the biggest thing is they were looking for the type of program that I want to build so there was a connection and vision and mission, which is to develop people first and foremost and out of that you get a great football program,” Walker said. “I love the mountains, I love this part of the country, I thought this would be a great place for me and my family and I love challenges.
“I am excited about the challenge of building a program, those are all those things that got me drawn to this place.”
Up first for Walker is using his theme of ‘Ram logic’ to reach his players, many of whom he won’t actually meet until practice starts in August.
“It is recruit, retain and renew,” Walker said. “Retain our own players and communicating with them, that is agenda number one. Agenda number two is recruit, start introducing myself to the guys that have already committed and finalizing the guys that we are already in conversation with...
“Renew, connect with the community, connect with the coaches, connect with the folks on campus. That is how we are going to attack this thing in the next few weeks.”
Walker was planning to begin that process as soon his introductory press conference was held on Friday morning.
“I am so excited to be here, it has been a great welcome, I can just feel the warmth of the community, which is really important to me and my family and so I want to get out there and first of all get in some churches and meet some folks in the community,” Walker said. “We want our football team connected that way and then definitely start calling our players and recruit, we need some reinforcements, we are trying to build a great program here and we need quality people so that is definitely the agenda...
“The guys that are local, I would love to meet with them,” he added. “I am going to pound the phones, I am going to get on the phones and start talking with our players and talking to parents and introducing myself and setting a vision and try to get us on the same page.”
There is little doubt that Walker is on the same page as both Olive and Dryer, who is also the men’s soccer coach at Bluefield.
“We are here obviously to play football, sure, that is part of the football program, but we want to build strong men who are leaders in the community,” Dryer said, “who are leaders on campus and who are here to get an education and do well academically, not just to earn an education, but to earn a great education and put the time and effort in.
“That is what we were looking for, someone to embrace those values and then obviously someone to be able do well on the football field and he has proven he can do that.”
There is much to do for Walker and his coaching staff — all of whom are holdovers from Gravier’s staff — to get done in the next two months.
He knows what he has to do first.
“First you have to pray a lot because that is a lot to do,” Walker said. “My family probably won’t be here for a month so I will have a lot of free time to really just invest myself in the job totally.
“It is just day to day, one day at a time.”
—Contact Brian Woodson