The Silver Streak who never was

by John Ring

Is it Bush or Gore?

Gore wins Florida. Then Bush wins Florida. Gore concedes. Gore un-concedes. Then Bush wins Florida again.

But while Presidential politics were going on, while lawyers argued and both major parties came off in a bad way, there was a drama working itself out right here in Galesburg.

Let's put it this way: when it comes to the world of Galesburg basketball, good news travels very fast. But bad news travels a lot faster.

Take last Wednesday. That's when the Silver Streak coaching staff and players received a pretty strong jolt. Word was spreading rather quickly that Ryan Walker, a talented 6'3'' junior, was leaving Galesburg and going back to North Carolina. Walker had transferred to GHS several months earlier.

Coach Geoff Falk heard the news first-hand last Wednesday night. That was the night that Ryan's father went to Falk's house to tell him that he had lost his job at Protexall and there was a good possibility the Walker family would head back to North Carolina.

''We were hoping for Ryan's sake that he would stay. His Dad said he was looking for work but that's a tough thing to do, especially if you just have three days.''

Falk didn't say anything to the team but word quickly spread that Walker was as good as gone. I got phone calls, emails and was stopped on the street. It was confirmed by several sources at the high school.

With that in mind, I went to the high school Monday night since it was photo day for the winter sports teams. Asked about Walker's status, Falk said that nothing was for sure yet but he would know one way or the other by the next day. He thought that Walker would be there that night, as part of the photo session so I thought it would be a good chance to find out what exactly was going on.

But Walker was a no-show. To make matters worse, the School Board Monday night accepted the resignation of Glinda Walker, Ryan's mother, a Language Arts Teacher at Churchill Jr. High School, effective November 10th.

The next day, Falk confirmed the bad news.

''He's moved back to North Carolina,'' said the Streaks coach. ''As I understand it, Ryan's father was looking for a job here but couldn't find one that met his needs. Ryan wanted to stay. He was getting caught up in the excitement of basketball here in Galesburg and was looking forward to playing here.''

''The worst thing in this whole situation is for Ryan. I'm not sure what the rules are in North Carolina, if he has to make so many practices before he'll be eligible to play or for how long he'll sit out.''

Falk admitted the timing was unfortunate but it could have been worse. ''Our roster wasn't set anyway and we still have a week to go before the season starts. We haven't changed anybody's roles. We haven't moved anybody around.''

''The team's a little discouraged about this because they liked Ryan and wanted him to play. But we have to be realistic because he's never played here before.''

Walker's offensive talents would have given the Streaks a significant boost. Many figured him to average 12-15 points a game and take some of the scoring burden off Jordan Watson. More than that, Walker would have bolstered a very weak junior class and could have given Falk and the Streaks two solid and productive seasons.

Ironically, I interviewed Ryan for this paper just two weeks ago.

Ryan Walker was pumped the day I saw him. He was ready to go. He was chomping at the bit.

Standing in an almost empty Thiel Gym, Walker pointed up to the radio broadcast booths and couldn't believe that two radio stations would be broadcasting Streak games. Even in a town the size of Charlotte, radio coverage of his former school's team was non-existent.

''I can't wait for the season to begin,'' Ryan said that day. ''Things will get back to normal for me.''

Hopefully, things will get back to normal for Ryan and his family. Life's tough enough and there are things going on that make the loss of a transfer student insignificant.

Still, you have to wonder what it would have been like.

Walker and Watson. Or Watson and Walker. It would have been fun to watch and Walker would have gotten a glimpse of Western Big 6 basketball which, without a doubt, would have prepared him for college basketball. The possibilities were endless but are now a moot point.

So now we're back to Bush or Gore.

The Ryan Walker saga has come to an end.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online November 17, 2000

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