Dr. LeRoy T. Walker '40
LeRoy Walker is an icon. As an athlete, coach and educator, he has
influenced thousands to not only enter the athletic arena ~but the
arena of life. It has been written, ‘Ask not alone for victory; ask
for courage. For if you can endure, you bring honor to us all.' Dr.
Walker has brought honor to us all.”
The Benedict College family echoes the above statement from Mr. Greenspan's quote on the liner notes of Dr. Walker's Biography, "An Olympic Journey," For he certainly has brought honor to Benedict and all of its alumni.
Today we salute the man who has brought honor to us all. He is the first of a long and storied history of Benedict athletes who after leaving Benedict went on to distinguish himself in the field of athletics as well as in life. The number "11" that Walker, a member of the Tigers' Athletic Hall of Fame, wore during his football playing days at Benedict was retired as a lasting tribute to his accomplishments while a student-athlete here and the achievements he has gained later in life. Benedict was the spawning ground for Walker's feats on the basketball court and the football field. He lettered in basketball throughout his college career and despite the fact that Benedict didn't have track, he became a sprinter with national-class times. But the most unusual story of his collegiate sports career involves football.
Walker, who did not play football in high school, went out for football during his junior year on a dare. Weighing in at 155-pounds, he was so small that the trainer had to alter his shoulder pads. But he proved to be a natural player and coach Lesley Stallworth assured him there was place a place for him on the team as a backup quarterback. Endowed with natural gifts. He could pass, kick and run, which was his biggest asset for if he was ever allowed to get outside a defender, it was "Katie bar the door." When an injury sidelined the starting quarterback, Walker stepped into the breech and the Tigers never looked back. He led Benedict to a conference championship during his junior year and was named a football All-American by the Pittsburgh Courier, the first such honor bestowed on a Benedict player.
At the conclusion of Walker's college career, the honor student and star athlete entered Columbia University and earned the Master's degree and a doctorate from New York University. He was the first African American to earn a doctorate in Exercise Physiology and Biomechanics from New York University. After receiving the master's degree, Benedict President Dr. J.J. Starks brought him back to his alma mater to head the newly formed Physical Education where he set up class schedules in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and exercise physiology. Dr. Walker achieved his greatest fame as an athlete in track and would later go on to become one of the most successful track and field coaches in the United States. Over the course of his career as coach at North Carolina Central University, he produced 111 All-Americans, 40 National Champions and 12 Olympians. He also coached Olympic teams from Ethiopia, Israel, Jamaica, Kenya and Trinidad-Tobago. In 1976 he became the first African American in Olympic history to coach an U.S. Olympic team. Twenty years later, in 1996, at the apex of his four-year term as President of the U.S. Olympic Committee, his influence and stature were cited as pivotal reasons for the 1996 Summer Games to be held in his native Atlanta. We proudly salute our own Dr. LeRoy T. "PoBelly" Walker, Class of 1940.