It’s a short list, like a posted batting order, and Glen Walker is happy to be on it.
Few high school baseball coaches have come as far as he has to make that lineup.
Walker – in his 14th season at Auburn Mountainview and 24th overall coaching the high school game – recently joined an exclusive club by picking up his 300th career win. He is one of only 10 known active coaches in the state who have reached the milestone.
For Walker, it wasn’t a surprise. But it was humbling.
“I’m honored. I owe the credit to the kids that I’ve gotten the opportunity to coach, the families that I’ve gotten to work with, and the assistants that I have had,” Walker said of his achievement. “When you coach as long as you do, you’re going to rack up some wins. But I think the teams that we have had have been pretty successful, and then you’re able to reach that number maybe quicker than anticipated.
“It’s all credit to the kids on the field and to the coaches in the dugout with me.”
No. 300 came after his Lions, who trailed 3-0, rallied for nine runs in the last three innings to beat Decatur at Federal Way on April 3. Players and coaches celebrated in the outfield after the game. Walker’s longtime assistant coaches – Pat O’Connor and Chuck Schroeder – announced Walker’s feat and presented him with the game ball.
Back home a night later, celebratory pregame festivities included Walker throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Walker’s bunch punctuated the night with an 11-0 rout of Todd Beamer in five innings for coach’s win No. 301. Nick Dublinski shone, allowing one hit in the shutout on Lea Hill.
After a slow start, the Lions have won four of their last five games in the North Puget Sound League to stay in the Olympic Division race, with plenty of games left to play. The Lions (5-2 in league, 6-7 overall) host Auburn at 7 p.m. Wednesday and take on Todd Beamer at home at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“We’re starting to figure it out … and sorted out some of our issues,” Walker said. “The kids are great.”
To be successful for so long, Walker has had to adjust to the times. He has coached nearly 500 games in high school, with a lifetime record of 301-192-1, and is 181-131-1 at Auburn Mountainview.
“I think it’s just passion,” he said of his secret to longevity in coaching. “You’ve got to be flexible and understanding. … The temperament of the kids changes and you have to be willing to adapt. You have to have a complete and utter passion for what you do. I don’t think that you can coach beyond a few years if you don’t truly love what you do and truly love the game of baseball.
“The game hasn’t changed all that much. In fact, the way I have approached the game, the way I coach, hasn’t changed a whole lot. We’ve adapted,” Walker said. “Dealing face-to-face with kids, how you deal and interact with kids, it’s changed a little bit, and coaches need to adapt to that part of it.”
Passion for the game still burns in Walker. He has coached two state champions – the first in 2003 when he was at Liberty, and the second 2013 at Auburn Mountainview – the only coach in state history to win two titles at two different 3A schools.
At Auburn Mountainview, Walker has led the Lions to state four times. Their 2013 run to the top was the school’s first-ever state championship for the boys athletic program.
Walker’s teams have won league championships and consistently play deep into the spring at district and state playoffs. He has coached a steady stream of talented players – too many to mention – but one in particular, hard-throwing Tim Lincecum at Liberty, became a two-time Cy Young Award winner and a three-time World Series champion with the San Francisco Giants.
How long Walker keeps coaching will depend on his family, more so than his desire to stay on the field.
“I could keep coaching forever. I love what I do,” he said. “I love working with kids. I love watching them grow. I love the interaction. I love the chess match. I love the game. But my kids are getting to the point where I want to be a part of what they are doing on a daily basis.
“Ultimately, that will be the decision,” he said. “It won’t be when I’m done coaching but when I shift gears.”