Published on February 2nd, 2017 | by Staples Soccer0
Staples Soccer Mourns Loss Of Jon Walker
Jon Walker ’88 — whose post-game interview after his FCIAC championship-winning goal in the 1987 finals quickly became the stuff of legend — has lost his battle with ALS and another neurological disease. The entire Staples soccer community is saddened by the loss of the player who was a part of one of the most interesting, and tightest-knit, teams in Wrecker history.
Playing with Mike Ashley, Scott Coleman, Peter Doolittle, Bobby Dearborn, Ty Jagerson, Josh Resnik, Derek and Drew Riker, Jon Scher, Doug Schiff, Peter Sheinbaum, Jem Sollinger, Steve Swann and Andy Udell, Walker was part of the Westport Warriors — a Westport Soccer Association town team at a time before premier clubs existed. The squad upset Glastonbury for the U-16 state championship, and made a strong run for the USYSA Region I title at the tournament in Niagara Falls.
Walker went on to play 2 years of varsity soccer for Staples. In his senior year the Wreckers overpowered Danbury 2-1 in the FCIAC semifinals. The finals — against Greenwich, at Wilton High School — was a rousing match. After 80 minutes however, it remained scoreless. Here’s how the game unfolded, as described on the History pages of StaplesSoccer.com:
“Despite their obvious superiority, Staples cannot connect. When someone on the bench comments on the game’s excitement, sophomore striker George Robbins replies, ‘I’d rather be ahead than excited.’ Winning the coin toss to start overtime, the Wreckers choose to stick with the wind and press the attack. Four minutes later the decision pays dividends. Udell’s long throw-in flies over Sollinger. The crafty midfielder boxes out his defender, quickly turns, chases it down and carries deep to the corner. Two backs follow him. He waits a split second, then sends a cross back on the diagonal. Jagerson stabs, but misses. The ball eludes 1 defender, then continues on to Walker as he cruises into perfect position. He sees the keeper out of position, leans over the ball and fires. A few minutes later Walker extricates himself from a pile of delirious players and fans to give an interview to Channel 12 news. ‘I’m in heaven…I scored the winning goal!’ he says. The remark becomes a Staples soccer cult classic.”
StaplesSoccer.com also noted Walker’s humorous side: “The king of comedians on a team blessed with personalities, he makes people laugh even on the field. Against Westhill, the referee warns both teams to keep their hands down. Walker immediately runs after a ball with his hands clenched behind his back.”
Walker went on to Skidmore College, where he met his future wife, Bridget. They bought a home in Fairfield, and had 2 children. Walker had a career in environmental data analysis. A superb and natural athlete, he was an avid softball player and golfer.
This fall, as his health declined, he was a much-loved presence on the Staples soccer sidelines. Players posed for selfies with him, Sollinger and Udell, who brought him to matches. The captains gave Walker a shout-out at the banquet in December, which he attended as team’s guest, and applauded when his photo appeared as part of the highlight video.
“Jon epitomized Staples soccer,” said Woog. “He loved the game and his teammates, and they loved him back. That Class of 1988 has been through a lot. Soccer continues to be a common thread in their lives, and as the years go by, that becomes more and more important.
“Seeing Jon on the sidelines — how his eyes lit up when the game began, and how he gave thumb’s-up signals for good plays — meant a lot to our current players. They learned a lot from him. Jon’s friends say he got a lot out of being with the team this season — but I think he gave even more to all of us.”
Funeral arrangements are incomplete.