Walker to be honored Friday
EDWARDS – It’s Homecoming week for Battle Mountain and capping the sporting end of the festivities are the rejuvenated 4-1 Huskies football team and No. 2-ranked Palisade (5-0) at 7 p.m. Friday.
It’s a game that’s been circled on the calendar since the schedule came out because this is the truest test as to whether Battle Mountain’s aspirations to be among the Western Slope’s and state’s elite are real. Equally important will be a halftime ceremony dedicating the north end zone of the football grid to Todd Walker, Battle Mountain Class of 2008.
Walker was shot to death in the early morning of March 18 in Boulder in what that city’s police called “a botched robbery.” Walker, 20, who was a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, where he had walked onto the football team and was studying business and economics, stepped between the assailant and the young lady he was walking home, according to the latter.
“Pam and I are really touched that (Battle Mountain) and the team would do something in honor of Todd,” Mark Walker, Todd’s father said. “An end zone seems really appropriate. We think it’s neat.”
Through the first two home games of the season, the football team has made defending that end zone a point of pride, and the defense has kept that record unblemished.
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“It doesn’t make it OK to let them score in the other one,” added Huskies defensive coordinator Jeff Krumlauf, who coached Todd in both football and track.
Leave it to Krum, as he’s better known, to break the ice.
Because as Mark Walker says, although “you spend all day trying not to think about the thing you want to think about the most,” the Walkers and the Battle Mountain community want to remember Todd in this ceremony and their daily lives in an upbeat and happy way.
‘We’ve spent a lot of time with the kids who were his friends, and the stories are coming out,” Mark said.
Riley Walker Parish
Todd’s older sister, Stephanie, now 23, was in Rob Parish’s first science class at Berry Creek Middle School that he taught when he moved to Eagle County. Kelli (nee Witter) Parish taught Todd when he was in seventh grade.
Perhaps showing the exuberance he would display in athletics at Battle Mountain and later in New Hampshire, Todd was a little rambunctious in class. Kelli would take Todd out to the bus loop at Berry Creek to run laps just to get the excess energy out of his system, so he could focus on his classwork.
“We’ve been close with the Walker family for a long time,” Rob Parish said. “Kelli taught Todd in seventh grade. I taught him in eighth grade. I had Todd in class in ninth and 10th grade when we both moved over to Battle Mountain.”
Despite running the Berry Creek bus loop, Walker was agood student, frequently on the honor roll and frequently found in athletic endeavors. He played football in the fall, hockey in the winter and both lacrosse and track in the spring.
Athletically, Walker was probably best-known for track, whose head coach was Rob Parish, though he was part of the crew that started lacrosse on its way to being a varsity sport. While most remember the 2008 Battle Mountain track team as the one that had the state-title 3,200-meter boys relay team, and some very big names associated with that quartet, the Huskies couldn’t have won a league title and finished fourth in the state without its sprinters.
That would be the quartet of Ryan Hedrick, Aaron Wilcox, Walker and Ascher Robbins. They finished ninth at state as team in the 800 relay, setting the school record that still stands. Walker and company also got the Huskies points in the sprinting events.
Yet as is a theme with those who coached or taught him, or with his friends, there was just so much more to Walker than his impressive resume.
“With all our academic and athletic connections, Kelli and I both stayed close with Todd,” said Parish, who left Eagle County for two years with Kelli to teach in Italy. “He stayed with us in Italy for a week. I skied with him on the Sunday before he was murdered. He was at our wedding. When I told him Kelli was pregnant, he was more excited than anybody. I can go on and on about the kind of person he was.”
Hence when Rob and Kelli Parish (who were married in 2009) welcomed their son into the world July 18, they named him Riley Walker Parish.
Having a good time doing it
Parish said that when he hears or sees something funny, there still is that instinct to text Walker. Krumlauf knows the feeling.
Krum has a tattoo honoring Walker, and feels his spirit every day.
“He is truly like a younger brother to me,” Krumlauf said. “The tattoo on my arm reminds me everyday to be a better person and how short life is. Day-in and day-out, you have to live life to its fullest. He always had a smile on his face. To not live life to fullest would be shame without doing anything less than you best and while not having a good time doing it.”
Battle Mountain sports has kept Walker in its thoughts. Track and field wore warm-up shirts in his honor throughout the season last spring, and lacrosse finished its third season as a full-fledged varsity team at 13-2.
And the football team has carried on the banner. A previously-porous defense is playing with a purpose.
“We really pulled it together this year,” linebacker Carl Hamrick said after a Week 2 win against Roaring Fork. “We had a few (graduation) losses, but it brought us together. The north end zone, that’s Todd’s end zone. We tee it up all day. We don’t let anyone score there. We run off that.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
What: Battle Mountain football hosts Palisade in football in a clash of the Western Slope’s best. The Huskies will also be dedicating the north end zone of their field to Todd Walker, Class of 2008, who was killed in March in Boulder.
When: Kickoff Friday is at 7 p.m. with the dedication ceremony at halftime.
Where: Battle Mountain High School in Edwards.