The United States Sports Academy’s 2021 Alumnus of the Year Greg Walker can add another honor to his growing list of achievements. Walker was recently named the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Volleyball Coach of the Year.
In his first season at Smith College, Walker led the team to its most successful season since 2013, guiding the Pioneers to a 21-11 record and NEWMAC Tournament appearance – the team’s first since 2013. As a team, the Pioneers finished first in the conference in kills, service aces and total blocks and fourth in assists, digs and hitting percentage.
Walker, who holds a Bachelor of Sports Science degree in sports coaching from the Academy, earned the institution’s Alumnus of the Year Award because of his more than a decade of experience coaching at the Paralympic and collegiate levels. In addition to coaching at Smith College, he is also the head coach of the U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball National Team and a training coach and consultant for the U.S. Men’s Indoor National Team.
In a previous interview, Walker said his Academy education helped propel his career at a time when he was working as an assistant volleyball coach in the collegiate ranks.
“The Academy really showed me how much goes on behind the scenes in an athletic program,” Walker said. “Once I realized I wanted to pursue coaching as a career, I knew I needed a thorough education with more than just formations and plays. The Academy gave me an in-depth knowledge of the ethics, psychology and theories behind coaching and my career has benefited because of it.
“The thing that makes the Academy so great is that it offers sport specific studies with incredibly supportive faculty to help with the distance learning. The faculty and instruction at the Academy are second to none. The faculty also has an extensive amount of work in the athletics field. They are able to really facilitate discussions and actually take the time to really connect with students.
“The Academy also has great resources for students. I learned a lot by reading The Sport Journal and my course materials because I was immediately able to use that information in my career. My education at the Academy helped to fine tune the skills I use every day.”
Before being hired at Smith College in 2020, Walker spent the 2019 season as an assistant coach at the University of Southern California. There, he oversaw all recruiting efforts, planned practices, created scouting material and was the point person for admissions, compliance, academic support, strength and conditioning, sports information and equipment. His career also includes coaching stops at Sacred Heart University (Ct.), Alderson Broaddus University (W.Va.), Pfeiffer University, and Mississippi State, and additional time as a volunteer coach at the University of Oregon, Mercer University, and Juniata College.
“I love sports because of the role they play in making an impact in the lives of athletes,” Walker said. “Coaching volleyball, I get to work with young people during one of the most pivotal times in their lives. I’m fascinated with how sport is a microcosm of life.”