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Quality Inn - Sudbury
Mike Hennessy, Lawyer
Sunday, May. 28, 2017
Heather Walker rewarded for NCAA dual sport excellence
2017-03-11
by Randy Pascal

Although it is true that a solid majority of those folks involved with the Northern Chill Volleyball Club can boast a lifelong or quasi-lifelong affiliation with Sudbury, that certainly doesn't stop the local competitive girls volleyball organization from celebrating the achievements of their relative newcomers to the area.

Hanover (Ontario) native Heather Walker moved to Sudbury in September of 2014, following her boyfriend and his pursuit of post-graduate studies at Laurentian University.

A gifted athlete who competed in both softball and volleyball while attending Georgian Court University in Lakeland (New Jersey), Walker would avail herself to the Chill coaching ranks not long after her arrival in Northern Ontario.

Earlier this year, Walker was inducted into the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (NCAA Division II), a recognition of her career with the Lions that would see the multi-sport talent recruited to the school to play softball, but expanding her athletic resume to include a four year stint with the Georgian Court varsity volleyball team as well.

In January, Walker returned to New Jersey, celebrated during a lengthened half-time ceremony at the Lions women's basketball game. "Mostly, I was just excited to get back, because it was held at my school," said Walker.

"We actually scheduled it around "National Girls' and Women's Sports Day", which was kind of nice. I had not been back in about three years." Completing her post-secondary eligibility in 2008, Walker had made the trek back state-side on a few occasions, usually to enjoy the weddings of friends and teammates.

With almost a decade of time now under the bridge, the 2017 visit included an interesting combination of faces, both new and old. "The athletic director is the same, she started the year before I got there," said Walker.

"She's pretty involved. The Sports Information director is the same. He used to write all of the stories and stuff, and he's actually the one who nominated me. Pretty much everybody else is new."

"I had actually played against our new softball coach, she was with another school in the conference. We had a good conversation. Having all of my friends coming to the ceremony and seeing everyone again, that was the highlight," Walker added.

There is a sense of irony to her current involvement as a volleyball coach with the Chill, given the clear-cut #1 status of softball during her teenage playing days. "I went down there as a softball player, I was recruited for softball, and then the volleyball opportunity was opened for me as well," she explained.

"I really expanded my knowledge of the game down there. I gained a great appreciation for the game of volleyball playing at university. It was huge, for me, kind of put me where I am now, I think."

While the fact that she starred in two separate sports likely did not hurt her resume when it came to the CACC selection committee naming Walker as only the second representative of Georgian Court to be so honoured, her heavy involvement in extra-curricular activities was also noted on the media release.

"I think that was actually important, probably," said Walker. "I was very involved in the Conference Student Advisory Committee, and I was the first person from our conference on the national committee."

"It was a cool experience for me, very unique. It was a big part of my life." On the court, Walker would be a key member of the 2007 conference champion softball team, as well as helping the Lions' volleyball team improve from winning just four games in her freshman year, to leaving as a senior with the two-time undefeated conference champs.

"It was crazy to see where we started, and where you can go with it in the span of three to four years," she stated. "It's really cool to see the transition the school has undergone, with all of the upgrades (in facilities) and stuff."

"I think all of us from my year probably feel that we had a little hand in this."

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