KVA to dedicate court Tuesday to longtime assistant coach

Jan. 28, 2013 @ 11:01 PM

When Bob Walker walks into Crawford Gym on game night, he doesn’t need a coach’s pass to gain entry. He’s been the varsity boys assistant coach for 21 years.

Spartan head coach Dave Carrier calls him the face of Kerr-Vance Academy basketball.

“But he doesn’t want to be,” added Carrier. “He wants the kids out front.”

The longtime coach’s propensity to deflect praise gave Carrier and his players all the more pleasure at practice last Wednesday when they surprised Walker with a new addition to Crawford’s court: His name.

The black Bob Walker script will permanently rest in front of the home bench as well as the KVA student section. The court will be dedicated Tuesday before the varsity boys match against Faith Christian, which is scheduled to tip at 7:30 p.m.

The Spartans got exactly the reaction they expected from Walker last week.

“It’s special and it’s an honor, but not something that I was necessarily looking for,” said Walker. “I’m sure there are many more people who are more deserving in some respect.”

On the contrary, according to senior Hayes Griggs, a lifelong KVA student in his second season on varsity.

“With how much time he puts in and how much effort he puts in to make sure he’s here every practice and every game, he deserves it. He definitely does,” said Griggs.

“He’ll pick on us when we do something wrong, but he’s always there for us,” added Griggs. “Assistant coach is not the right word for him. He’s like a second head coach.”

In-game adjustments are one of the strengths of Carrier’s co-pilot.

“I can’t tell you how many halftimes before we talk to the team he’ll make a suggestion to me and if I’m smart enough to listen to him, they almost always work,” Carrier said. “Sometimes I ignore him and he’s never said I told you so yet.”

Working with players individually and helping to develop their shots is another one of Walker’s trademark coaching characteristics.

That’s how senior Derrius Perry was introduced to Walker the summer before his junior season. Walker told Perry he could shoot, he just needed to work on his technique.

“So he took me to the other gym and just worked with me,” said Perry. “He’s one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever been around and he’s one of the greatest that have helped me to improve to be the person I am today in basketball and outside of basketball.”

The players know him simply as “Bob” or “Coach Bob,” a by-product of Walker’s laid back, wisecracking personality.

“He can get serious, but when he’s not serious, he’s the best guy to be around because he can say the littlest thing and you’ll die laughing,” said Perry.

Walker has coached alongside Rusty Scarborough, Gerald Rook, Glen Taylor, John Whitley and now Carrier. He’s been a part of four state runner-up squads and one state championship team. KVA has missed the state tourney only three times in his tenure.

Walker says the 2012-2013 Spartans, who boast a senior class of 10, are perhaps the tightest-knit group he has coached.

“Everybody gets along, everybody loves each other,” he said. “Nobody cares who scores, just as long as we win.”

Walker has been approached in the past about becoming the head coach.

“Just getting to practice and games over about a three and a half or four month period every year takes a lot of scheduling to be able to get here and a lot of time,” said Walker. “I just didn’t feel like I could give it and be fair to the kids and give them everything they need.”

Walker owns and operates four skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities, one of which is located in Jefferson, north of Boone.

“I think the two years I’ve played for him he’s missed one practice,” said Griggs.

Carrier said Walker arranges his work schedule around the Spartans’ practices.

“He’s never late and he’s always full of ideas and enthusiasm,” said Carrier. “I’ve coached for 25 years now and I feel very lucky to have someone like him — he’s almost like a brother to me. And I’m fortunate that my son (Tyson Carrier) gets to play for him.”

No, the face of KVA hoops doesn’t like the attention. When Walker saw his name on the court, he immediately said it should be about the kids, who have kept him coming back for more than two decades.

To the head coach, Walker’s name represents both the coach and the players.

“The name in there is about Bob,” said Carrier, ‘but it’s also about all the lives he’s touched and all the kids he’s worked with.”

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.