John Walker Leaves Men's Lacrosse Program Due To Chronic Back Problems
John Walker, one of the brightest young stars in college lacrosse coaching, has announced he will be leaving his position as the defensive coordinator at Princeton due to a chronic back problem.
“It’s a sad day for us all," said Princeton head coach Chris Bates. "John quickly established himself here as a foundation guy in our program with his work ethic, knowledge and ability to relate with our team. You couldn’t help but see the ongoing struggle with his back, though. It clearly was affecting him both professionally and personally, and I think he doing the right thing for his future by stepping away at this point. We love John and wish him nothing but the very best going forward."
Walker spent the 2014 season at Princeton and the four previous years coaching at the University of Virginia.
“After five years of seeing my back deteriorate, it’s gotten to the point where I need to step away and hopefully get healthy," Walker said. "I’m not sure what the future will bring. Maybe I will be able to coach again some day. As for now, under the guidance of my doctors and family, I must make a change professionally and transition into a something a little less physically taxing.””
Walker was a first-team All-America at Tewaaraton Trophy finalist at the United States Military Academy before graduating in 2006, and he is still the third all-time leading scorer in school history. He also suffered a major back injury as a junior that required surgery and ultimately led to his being medically retired from the Army in 2009.
He had his second back surgery this past December, and he has done physical therapy three times a week since in hopes of improving. Unfortunately, his condition has gotten worse over the last few months.
“When I was at UVa, I was able to warm up goalies,” he said. “As time went on, I could do less and less. I really struggled at the end of the year and during recruiting this summer.”
Walker coached a defense that started two freshmen and a sophomore a year ago.
“I was so excited about the opportunity to alongside Coach Bates ,” Walker said. “He is a great mentor, leader and friend, and I look forward to seeing Princeton Lacrosse future successes unfold. I wish the program nothing but the very best.”