Every Tuesday and Thursday at the College of Alameda, children as young as three years old can be seen racing around the track and learning the fundamentals of the sport from Coach Ralph Walker.
Raised in Alameda, Walker says he ran track as a child and was motivated by his coaches and mentors, Don Grant and Willie White. He suffered a stroke in 2002 but that still could not pull him away from the sport as he remains committed to helping and inspiring young athletes in Oakland and Alameda.
“I want to add something positive in their lives,” said Walker. “It’s all about helping them learn the fundamentals, finding out their skills, and instilling good values.”
In 2008, he began to coach kids with the Berkeley East Bay Track Club. He has since started his own group, the Don Grant Alameda Point Youth Track Club. He works with roughly 20 kids each practice, helping them prepare for local, state, and nationwide track meets.
“I love this program and I’m happy he takes the time to work with the kids,” said David Laviene, whose daughter trains with Walker. “Many of these kids growing up have nothing to do nowadays. He gives good advice and my daughter can take that and run with it.”
Michael Canon’s son Malik has been running with the team for the past two years. He says the work and time Walker gives to his athletes is a “blessing”.
“Malik really looks up to him for guidance and it’s been the best thing to happen to him,” he added.
Walker is now in the process of prepping his athletes for the upcoming Tommie Smith Youth Track Meet at UC Berkeley on May 17th and 18th. Each year, legendary athlete Tommie Smith, known for his black power salute at the 1968 Olympics, makes an appearance each year.