By Marvin Pena in Sports
Getting to Know Ann Walker
Clark hired Ann Walker as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics this summer replacing Charles Guthrie. Overall, Walker has served for 23 years in athletics in roles ranging from administration to coaching. Walker comes to Clark during an athletic upswing as last year, 10 of 11 sports programs at Clark made post-season appearances and four coaches won conference Coach of the Year honors.
Why Clark College? What brought you here?
“I’ve worked in college athletics for 24 years and I saw this opportunity on a website and I didn’t know much about Clark at the time. So I started doing some research about the college first and then the athletic department and I felt as though this job was calling my name. I was a college coach, then I was a college administrator and then an associate athletic director and always the next logical step in my head was to be an athletic director. Honestly, what really drew me was when I came for my in-person interview the people that I met and the staff that I met was really what ultimately led me to accept this position.”
What challenges do you think you will face?
“A lot of challenges. I’ve worked at a number of different colleges and universities across the country and this will be the first setting where I’ve worked and the coaches were part-time. That was alarming to me and I knew that was going to be a challenge for me personally because I’m all-in. I’m very passionate about college athletics; I’ll pour my heart and soul into this.”
What are your expectations for your coaches?
“I think we have a really really good, solid group of coaches. Because of that, their expectations are going to be to win championships. I don’t doubt that each one of them has that as a goal.”
What can you bring to Clark that wasn’t here before?
“Relationship building. I’m a people person. I love to be around people, I love to meet new people, I love to develop those relationships and see how people can work together to accomplish greater things. And I like to have fun. College athletics can be so stressful and demanding at times, you gotta have fun. I think I bring an upbeat energy, a positive attitude, but more than anything is that relationship building across campus.”
What is different about this job compared to ones you’ve had in the past?
“The previous two schools were Division II schools that were very well funded. What I came from was a lot of support staff, well funded and now it’s minimal support staff with me, Marla and Charlie and Kirk so it’s just a real different feel. But bottom line is it’s the same thing. It’s people in an athletic department all working for the same purpose and goals.”
What are your plans for improving funding for the athletic program?
“Athletics like a lot of other entities across campus all want to be funded better. I know that we’re not an isolated incident and it’s going to be baby steps. I know budget is really really tight and I’ve already been told no a number of times. I get it. I think each of the coaches has their own little fundraising projects that they do. Obviously donors help and developing relationships with the donors and working with the foundation to do that. There will be some department-wide fundraising things as well. Hopefully we can get our golf outing, which is a major athletic department fundraiser, back up-and-running. It didn’t happen last year and I’m hoping to get that up and going again this year.”
How do you plan to address any Title IX complaints?
“I feel confident that it won’t happen again. I have been informed of what has happened in the past and it seems to me, at least from what I’ve been told, that those situations have been remedied. I feel as though there is equity within our program and I will make sure that that equity stays true.”
What impact do you think you will leave on Clark?
“I want to leave every place I’ve ever been better than when I started. Whether they’re here for two weeks or two years, I want them to walk away from Clark College and say ‘I had an awesome experience at Clark, I loved being a part of whatever team, we had an awesome athletic director.’ I want them to walk away with a really really really good feeling and I feel as though that is the type of environment I’m really working at trying to create here. My ultimate goal here is to make sure we do what we can, me individually and as a staff, to help our student-athletes achieve success.”