by John Ring

Last week, I wrote an article about Ryan Walker leaving town and moving back to North Carolina. I summed it all up in my last line and I quote: ''The Ryan Walker saga has come to an end.''

But as I watched the Galesburg girls basketball team destroy three straight opponents over the weekend, I heard Ryan Walker's name mentioned at Thiel Gym more than Sarah Pacheco's.

''Did you hear? Walker's back in town. Walker's going to play. Things didn't work out in North Carolina.''

So I went to Athletic Director Mike Robson's office to check on the rumors. Robson had heard them, too. But, as far as he knew, Walker was still in North Carolina.

''You said it yourself that the Ryan Walker saga came to an end,'' Robson said to me. I think he was smirking when he said it. But he was right.

Coach Geoff Falk couldn't confirm it, either. He heard the stories as well. They were sweeping all over town, from Swedough's to Sully's to the Police Department.

But yes indeed, Ryan Walker is back. He practiced with the Streaks on Monday night and was granted eligibility status on Tuesday by the IHSA after a written request was submitted by Robson.

''I got back in town about 10:30 this morning,'' said the 6'3'' junior wunderkind. He went right to school and re-enrolled. He made his last two classes.

''I saw him in the hallway today and was pretty confused,'' said teammate Jordan Watson.

''I saw him and thought, 'Are you visiting or something?','' said senior Ryan Kohl.

Ryan Walker left town with his family after his father lost his job. But things just didn't click when they got back to Charlotte. Things weren't right. This wasn't -- dare I say -- Galesburg.

''It just felt better here,'' said Walker. ''We got back to North Carolina and were sitting in the hotel room at two in the morning and we had a long talk. We discussed it over and my Mom really wanted to come back to Galesburg. She was the one that led to us coming back. I have to admit when we first came here, it was different. But now it feels good. This is home to me.''

Glinda Walker, Ryan's mother, was an English teacher at Churchill Junior High School. She had resigned her position but can reapply for it.

''This has been an amazing week,'' said Streaks' Coach Geoff Falk. ''It was a surprise that Ryan's back but a pleasant surprise. Ryan is a very good basketball player and a good person as well. I was disappointed he had to go but I'm glad to hear his parents had a change of heart. They realized they made a mistake and wanted to come back to Galesburg.''

Falk said the roster wouldn't be changed. ''We'll just add Ryan. No one will be cut, no one will be demoted. I left some spaces open in case sophomores would be brought up anyway. It's no problem.''

It's no problem for the Streaks, either.

''We're happy to have him here,'' said Kohl. ''I think the team is pretty excited about that.''

''We were ready to go into the season without him. But we're ready to go into the season with him now,'' added Watson. ''I don't know if the team will be any more pumped up going into Wednesday's game but it's nice to have him back.''

''He's not that far behind,'' said Falk. ''It's not like he's been lying around all week. He makes us a better team and everyone should appreciate that. We all know what he can do for the team and that's the bottom line.''

Even as we spoke late Monday night, Walker was optimistic about his chances of being ruled eligible. ''I never enrolled anywhere else. I didn't practice anywhere else. Practicing here tonight felt great, real great.''

Told that many of his teammates expressed support for him even after he left, Walker responded, ''That's why these guys are my friends. They're a great bunch of guys. That's another reason that I wanted to come back.''

My final line about Ryan Walker's saga coming to an end that Mike Robson mentioned was noticed by someone else as well.

''I saw that on the internet,'' said Ryan Walker. ''We were going to call you and tell you that it wasn't over.''

I stand corrected. The Ryan Walker saga continues.

Because Ryan Walker is a Silver Streak.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online November 21, 2000

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