Wilkes County native Jimmy Walker served as an assistant coach on a high school baseball team that won a state championship last week in Alabama.
Walker coached the outfielders and catchers on the Bayshore Christian team that won the 1A state title in Montgomery, Ala., on May 19.
“It was a great honor to be part of this team’s success,” said Walker, who grew up in Wilkesboro and graduated from West Wilkes High School in 2001.
“For me, my days in Wilkesboro playing baseball with all the volunteer coaches, business sponsors and high school coaches prepared me for where I am today. They poured into a little kid that didn’t know nothing from nowhere and made me the father, husband, man and coach I am today.”
Walker played T-ball at Cub Creek Park in Wilkesboro a year before he started school at Mt. Pleasant Elementary. His first coach was Larry Miller, whose son Brent ended up being Jimmy’s teammate at West High.
Ken Lyall was Walker’s junior varsity coach and Craig Church was his varsity skipper. “Both were great coaches and examples,” he said.
As a Blackhawk, Walker was all-county and all-tournament his senior year. He was a sophomore member of the varsity team that advanced to the fourth round of the state playoffs in 1999.
After high school, Walker played at Wilkes Community College until he injured his knee and had to have surgery, which closed out his playing career.
Walker left Wilkesboro in 2005 to work in sales in Fort Mill, S.C. In 2007 he took a job in Atlanta in sales and a year later married his wife, Alesha, who had just finished her graduate degree in physical therapy from Elon University.
Alesha later earned her doctorate and opened a physical therapy clinic in the Mobile Bay area. Walker and his family then moved to Fairhope, Ala., in 2015, and his daughter enrolled at Bayshore, a classical education private school.
“In a conversation with (Bayshore) athletic director/head baseball coach Jeff Hauge, I simply mentioned if he ever needed any help, I would be glad to help out,” Walker recalled.
“A few weeks later we met and he agreed to bring me on to help the team as an assistant coach. Being an outfield coach and catcher coach came pretty natural, given these were the two positions I played” in high school.
In Walker’s second year as assistant coach, Bayshore won the Panhandle Christian Conference championship. Then Hague made the decision to enroll the program in the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
After a two-year probationary period, Bayshore was finally playoff eligible in 2021.
“I had no idea this team would have the ability to make it this far,” confessed Walker. “We had one senior, one junior, six sophomores, one freshman and seven eighth-graders—four of which were starters.”
Despite the youth on the team, Bayshore finished with a 29-10 record and broke two state records: most lopsided win in the Montgomery finals and the first school to win a state crown in its first year of eligibility.
“If I had one thing to say to those that pour into children who play sports, it would be thank you for your willingness to mold and shape our next generation,” Walker reflected. “While youth sports are amazing, the life lessons strengthen us to succeed in life. I give all the glory to god and his righteousness.”