Kirk Walker Becomes Latest UCLA Softball Assistant to Earn Promotion

The longtime Bruin and former Oregon State coach is joining Lisa Fernandez as an associate head coach.

It is apparently promotion season in Westwood, as another Bruin coach has received a bump in their role.

UCLA softball and coach Kelly Inouye-Perez announced Friday afternoon that assistant coach Kirk Walker has been promoted to associate head coach – the same title that fellow assistant Lisa Fernandez received when she earned a promotion on Wednesday. Walker is entering his 22nd year as an assistant coach and the 11th since returning to UCLA after being Oregon State’s head coach from 1995 to 2012.

Alongside Fernandez, Walker becomes the second coach to earn the title of associate head coach this century. Within the program, the assistant coach has been the primary role of the coaches below Inouye-Perez, but now both longtime Bruins have broken new ground.

“It’s a great honor and I’m grateful for the recognition of my commitment to the program and UCLA Athletics,” Walker said in a statement. “I appreciate the support of (Athletic Director) Martin Jarmond, (Senior Associate Athletic Director) Christina Rivera and Kelly Inouye-Perez for this acknowledgment.”

Walker’s history in Westwood began as an undergraduate assistant coach in 1985. After graduating, Walker remained on staff as an assistant coach through 1994 – winning six national championships in that time – before taking over the Beavers’ program in Corvallis.

At Oregon State, Walker led his team to nine straight NCAA Regional appearances from 1999 to 2007 and also guided the Beavers to the Women’s College World Series in 2006 for the first time in program history.

Walker then returned to Westwood after his 18-year stint as a head coach in the Pacific Northwest. He remains the winningest coach in Oregon State history with a record of 594-490-3.

“Bringing Kirk Walker back to UCLA has been an important piece to our continued success,” Inouye-Perez said in a statement. “Kirk has helped build this tradition of excellence and is a tremendous asset in all aspects of the program, and I am pleased to promote him to an Associate Head Coach position.

A strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, Walker came out as gay in 2005 and is a co-founder of both the Equality Coaching Alliance and the LGBT Sports Coalition. According to Outsports.com, Walker was the only openly-gay male coach in Division I sports as of October 2020.

Walker has been a mainstay in the third-base coaching box since returning to UCLA, spearheading a viral tradition where he tosses a Jolly Rancher to every home run hitter as they round third.

“My passion for this program and UCLA has never been stronger since I started with the program as a freshman in 1983,” Walker said. “I’ve spent most of my adult life coaching here at UCLA, and being named as an Associate Head Coach along with two of my closest friends and esteemed peers is a career highlight. I’m so proud to be at UCLA, a Bruin for life.”

Follow Royer on Twitter at @thebenroyer
Follow All Bruins on Twitter at @SI_AllBruins
Like All Bruins on Facebook at @SI.AllBruins
Subscribe to All Bruins on YouTube

Read more UCLA stories: UCLA Bruins on Sports Illustrated
Read more UCLA softball stories: UCLA Softball on Sports Illustrated


Read More 

Back to top button