So many great players have come through the UH men's volleyball program, yet few have passed the eye test athletically like Josh Walker. It was hard not to take notice of Walker during his UH playing career. The Virginia kid with the long hair that could jump out of the gym and pound the ball.
"You know the name Josh Walker when you are getting recruited here," junior setter Jennings Franciskovic claimed.
Walker was an AVCA All-American during his four-years as a Rainbow Warrior, recording the fifth-most kills in program history. His successes in college led to a five-year professional career in Europe before Walker returned to Manoa prior to this season as an assistant coach.
"I knew I wanted to coach, but I was not sure if I was going to get the opportunity to coach at this high of a level just right of the bat," Walker said.
But the timing was perfect. Head coach Charlie Wade had an opening on his staff, and Walker happened to be the perfect fit.
"He's the full package," Wade said. "He is going to crush it recruiting, he's great in the office. He can relate to the guys on a level where he can still step out on the court and play at the highest level. Josh is going to have a great career for a long time coaching here."
Walker admits transitioning from player to coach takes a lot more mental preparation, but his greatest asset is being able to draw on his experience as a Rainbow Warrior.
"I think it has benefited me more just coming to this program," said Walker. "The players that play here--they were in the same spot as me. They are the same kind of players. They want to play in front of a huge fan-base. They want that to push them to higher levels."
Kolby Kanetake grew up in Honolulu and watched Walker throughout his UH career. The senior libero raved about Walker's return to the program.
"Having him here is really special and important to us," Kanetake said. "He has helped us a lot."
And yes, when the Bows need to go against an outside hitter at practice, Walker can still bring it.
"He still jumps so high, just rips the ball," Franciskovic recalls. "It's really hard to compete with him still."
UH takes on UCLA Saturday in the MPSF Quarterfinals. First serve is at 4:00pm HST in Westwood.
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