Crusader Chronicle

A Coaches’ Player: A.J. Walker

A.J.+after+a+preseason+practice+had+just+concluded.+A.J.+will+be+a+captain+for+the+2017-2018+season.+
A.J. after a preseason practice had just concluded. A.J. will be a captain for the 2017-2018 season.

A.J. after a preseason practice had just concluded. A.J. will be a captain for the 2017-2018 season.

A.J. after a preseason practice had just concluded. A.J. will be a captain for the 2017-2018 season.

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If a lacrosse coach was to make the prototypical defender from scratch to play on his team, A.J. Walker would be pretty close to meeting that standard. According to his coach Max Schmidt, “He is fundamental based, always looking to get a leg up on his opponent. He is very driven to see his team succeed. That’s one of the most important things about a player and a captain.” However, A.J. didn’t start lacrosse as a great player, let alone playing defense.

In 8th grade, A.J. started playing lacrosse because he wanted to do something other than play football, basketball, or baseball, and joined lacrosse due to his best friend Ian MacFarlane’s encouragement. He started off as a midfielder due to his speed, but during his first scrimmage with the team he switched over to defense, and the rest is history.

A.J. picked up playing defense quickly, starting for the team from the beginning of the season. “The reason for my immediate success at defense was mainly just my footwork. I was able to make up for a lack of experience with a natural ability to play great angles and keep up with quick attackmen” said Walker.

Once A.J. went into high school, he caught the eye of Max Schmidt, head lacrosse coach of Faith Lutheran but at the time defensive coordinator. Coach Schmidt said, “From the very first day I met A.J., I knew he was very serious about his craft, very serious about what his teammates did.” A.J. went on to make the varsity team as a freshman defender, something not done by anyone in program history. When he found out, he said that, “I was actually surprised and nervous, since I had only been playing for a year.”

From the very first day I met A.J., I knew he was very serious about his craft, very serious about what his teammates did.”

— Coach Max Schmidt

His freshman year, he switched positions to Long Stick Midfielder (LSM) to better accommodate to the team’s needs, and saw the field as a rotational player. However, going into his sophomore year, instead of seeing a large jump in playing time, he got much less playing time overall, which “sucked” according to him. His friend Ian noticed that instead of seeing A.J. sulk about lacking playtime, “He saw what the team needed, and stepped up to fill that role, because that’s the type of player he is.”

He used all he learned from the seniors his sophomore year to have a breakout junior season. He became in Coach Schmidt’s words, “a lockdown, shutdown defensemen, a coverguy.” After a stellar year in which he was all-conference, all-state, and won a state championship, he committed to Elmhurst College and was named captain for his senior year, which he said motivates him to “set the standard for every practice and game.”

Now in his final year as a Crusader, A.J. looks to lead Faith’s lacrosse team to a repeat state championship by leading on and off the field, dominating on the defensive end, and just doing his job as he has done all along.

 

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