Kevin Walker spends hours in the weight room. But it’s not just his own weight training routine, which he has done for some 30 years, it’s hours and hours of work with countless local youths to help them get ready for football, basketball or other sports.
For that tireless devotion to helping young people improve themselves, Tri-Mountain View Masonic Lodge No. 35 of Lovell honored Walker as the 2013 Outstanding Citizen Thursday night for his work in the community.
The son of Dale and Carol Walker, Walker is a 1989 graduate of Lovell High School, where he excelled in football and was a member of the 1987 state championship team. He played one year of college football at Dakota State in Madison, S.D.
Walker said he became interested in weight training as a youth.
“I watched the Wide World of Sports and strong man competitions, and Dad got us a DP weight set,” he said. “Russ (brother) and I worked on the weights. I’ve been lifting for more than 30 years.”
In high school, Walker worked with younger athletes to help them with their lifting at the old weight room above the high school pool, beginning his longtime practice of sharing his passion with others.
While attending the University of Wyoming, Walker became a student assistant under head strength coach Vernon Banks, who later moved on to the Denver Broncos. He learned a lot about weight training from Banks.
After his return from Laramie, Walker begin volunteering to help local athletes – or anyone else who was interested – get bigger and stronger, not only for sports in a given year but also to teach them a lifetime of weight training. He has worked with hundreds of youths since then to help them with strength and fitness.
Initially, Walker worked with the weight equipment above the pool, and he said he is grateful that the Lovell Recreation Dept. allowed him to use the equipment. Then in 2004 Kevin and Deanna Walker joined forces with Chad and Lindsay Lindsay, Ken and Ranee Ferbrache and Jodi Lindsay to open Better Body Fitness in downtown Lovell, and the fitness center gave him even more freedom and flexibility to work with young people and others.
Walker generally works with kids after school from about 3 to 5 p.m., but when he’s on the day shift at Bentonite Performance Minerals he goes in later in the evening, around 7:30.
“I give them little workout plans,” he said. “It’s not just building strength, we work on explosion and coordination. I don’t discriminate. Anybody can come.
“It’s a lifetime thing. It’s not just for sports. Sports only lasts so long. It’s great watching kids excel and doing things they didn’t think they could do. It’s neat to watch.”
Asked about success stories, Walker cited Jed Nebel, noting that after struggling to get him into the weight room he could hardly keep him out and Nebel dropped a lot of weight and became an all-conference center for the Bulldog football team.
“It’s such a good feeling,” Walker said. “School is a hard place to gain confidence, but down there we can build that confidence.”
Walker also noted that Aaron Clark went from a string bean basketball player who was unable to dunk the basketball to a strong forward/center who could “dunk every which way.” Walker had Clark work with a 12-pound medicine ball, getting him to jump with that heavy ball onto a 42-inch box.
“He put on15 pounds during the course of the year,” Walker said.
Walker also gives to the community through coaching. He coached Little League Baseball for several years, coached at the high school level as an assistant football coach and for years has been the head coach of the eighth-grade football team, building the foundation for strong high school squads.
He recently helped start the Lovell Youth Football program.
For many years, Walker’s wife, Deanna, was his biggest supporter, but she lost her battle with cancer on Jan. 11. Kevin said it has been healing to work with the kids.
“She was never jealous of my time,” he said. “She taught me a lot about living, her and my dad.”
And so Walker will continue to enjoy his weight training and helping anyone who wants help. He is proud of the young athletes who have dedicated themselves to a program.
“They work,” he said. “It’s not just coming down to BS with your friends. Look at Dino (Collins), Cody (Savage) and Dylan (Hultgren). Wow.
“Then the kids under them follow. You can’t get all of them. You wish you could. But it is open to them.
“It’s been fun. It’s given me something to do. I was going down there anyway.”
And always helping.
By David Peck