I was visiting an old friend of mine one afternoon, Barbara Faison, when I noticed a flyer on her refrigerator announcing Randy Walker’s run for a seat on the school board, district #4.
“Who is that?” I asked, pointing to the flyer.
“Oh! That is my nephew,” she answered, beaming with pride. Then, as if not giving either of us a choice, Barbara added, “You can interview him for your internet.”
(Did I mention she’s in her 70’s and bossy?) I do enjoy Barbara. We’ve been friends since my first child was still an infant. That being said, without waiting for a response, she picked up her cell phone, dialed Randy’s number and then handed the phone to me. After explaining to Randy why I was speaking with him instead of his aunt, I told him what I did and why I was calling. He kindly agreed to meet me for lunch at Aunny’s on Front Street.
When we finally met and sat down at the table to talk, I explained to Randy, “I want to know about Randy Walker, the man and not Randy Walker, the politician. I want readers to get to know you away from your political agenda.”
“Okay. I’m 57 and my wife and I of 21 years have three children,” he began with an easy smile. “I grew up in downtown Georgetown, over on Meeting Street and just down the street from Aunny’s owners, Charles and Andrea Johnson; we were neighbors growing up.
Jane, Aunny’s mom overheard him and came over to the table. “Yes, they did. They all grew up together and when one did something out of line, they got whipped for it, too, and sent home to their Mama.”
“Yes, Ma’am, we did,” Randy concurred. “We got two whippings: one from the neighbor and one from our mothers. Everybody worked together and kept all the kids in the neighborhood straight.”
“Now-a-days, people are so afraid to discipline their own child let alone someone else doing it, too,” Jane confirmed as she walked off to help a customer.
Picking up where Randy and I left off, I asked, “What kind of work do you do?”
“I’m an athletic coordinator for the Georgetown Rec Center. I’ve been working for and with youth sports since 1985,” he answered.
I noticed Randy is quite a large man. I had no doubt he was athletic so I asked how tall he was. He said he was six-five. I think he is taller than that, but I didn’t bring my tape measure with me and I wasn’t about to dispute that with him, either.
I wrote it down and went on to the next question. “Have you always been involved in sports?”
We ordered first and then he answered, “Yes, Ma’am. I even went to college on a sport’s scholarship. At one time, I was invited to play for the Dallas Cowboys. I went down for their camp and was interviewed, but due to a knee injury it didn’t happen.”
I must have had an expression on my face because Randy laughed and said, “I don’t have any regrets. I love what I do. When I was in college, I also played basketball. I was the starting center of the team I played with. We won the Conference Championship for the first time in 51 years. I’m still in touch with some of my old teammates, too, who are very supportive of my bid for school board. We had one of the best coaches in the business when I was in college. Even now I try to use what he taught us with the children that I work with today at the rec center.”
I jotted a few more notes and then asked, “Who was your coach and what did he teach you that you’ve passed on to our children now?”
Randy leaned back in his chair and said, “His name was Lambert Reed. He taught us three important things that we had to live by: First, be where you’re supposed to be. Second, be there when you’re supposed to be there and third, accomplish what needs to be done.
“I want the kids I teach to understand responsibility and respect themselves. They need to have accountability for their actions and they need to know they will be held responsible for them, as well. Family is important in a child’s structure. Their learning begins at home and that includes learning self-respect which is something I feel sports helps them to achieve.”
A thought occurred to me with current events. It’s been in the news lately about football being a dangerous sport so, I asked Randy about it.
“Do you think it’s a good thing for children to play in sports?” I asked to start the conversation.
“I think it’s a very good thing,” he answered honestly. “I’ve heard things from other people. Things like sports do not educate our children and that is completely false.”
“Why do you say that?” I asked. Although, I wasn’t a very sporty-kind of person, I actually do agree that games, even sports, can teach children some basic rules for life. I went on and added, “I know what I personally think, but explain to me your ideas on how you feel sports influences and educates children.”
Randy ticked off on his fingers: “First, playing sports teaches kids sportsmanship – how to lose and lose graciously. Second, it brings kids together and teaches them to work as a team. You know, unite. It also teaches them what it means to get knocked down and have to get back up again because that’s how life is. Sometimes life knocks you down and you just have to get back up and move on which goes along with preparing themselves mentally for the reality of life. Not everyone can win and so you do the best that you can until something else comes along and then you can do better.”
As we finished up lunch, Randy reiterated. “Like I said, Michelle, I have no regrets. God brought me to where He wanted me to be. I love what I do. I love working with the kids at the rec center. It’s where I’m supposed to be right now.”
I agree. Randy seems quite happy with his work. One can see he’s very passionate about it. His face lights up when he talks about the children and teaching them how to play out on a field.
“So you would say that is your greatest accomplishment then?” I asked.
“Oh no,” Randy denied. “My greatest accomplishment is earning a degree. I’m very proud of that fact. I have even helped other children and recommended them for sports scholarships so they can further their own education. I think it gives them a strong foundation. I want to see them all succeed in life.”
We had talked about many things before, during and after lunch, but I found his take on children and sports to be a refreshing, yet, heartfelt point of view. As I said, Randy is very passionate about children and their education.
Good luck in the upcoming election, Randy. Win or lose, we hope you continue doing such good work with Georgetown’s smallest residents.