Coach Ralph Walker Starts Youth Track Club in Alameda

From left to right: Olympic gold medalist Jim Hines, Alameda Recreation and Parks Director Amy Wooldridge, and Coach Ralph Walker. Photo courtesy of Alameda Recreation and Parks Department.

By Ashley Chambers “It’s always been a dream of mine to go back home and start something for the kids,” said Coach Ralph Walker, who’s bringing his Don Grant Alameda Point Youth Track Club to the city this year. Raised in Alameda, Walker started running track as a child and was motivated by his coaches and mentors, Don Grant and Willie White. Naturally, he began to coach kids in the sport five years ago with the Berkeley East Bay Track Club. Providing an outlet for youth, Walker, who suffered a stroke in 2002, says he wants to be a positive influence and show youth people how to overcome adversity. “A lot of people don’t think I can do what I’ve been doing with my disability. Some people take that for a weakness, but it’s keeping me motivated and active,” Walker says. “I want to put something positive in their lives; that’s what I want to do for the kids in Alameda.” In partnership with the Alameda Recreation and Park Department, which is providing free space for their conditioning program, the club will also provide mentoring, health and wellness education, and academic support for students. “It’s a fantastic program. It provides a great avenue for young people to get involved,” says Amy Wooldridge, Recreation and Parks Director. “There’s too much child obesity; with a program like this, it targets low-income youth and the community to help them learn the importance of running, being a part of a team and being active.” Olympians Marilyn King and Jim Hines will be at the first practice on Tuesday, Feb. 5. The track club is open to girls and boys ages 3-14. Walker says he is looking for coaches and sponsors. For more information, contact Coach Walker at (510) 776-7451 or ralphwalker27@yahoo.com.

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