For as long as he can remember, Coppell junior infielder/catcher Walker Polk has wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and play baseball for Baylor University.
Chad Polk was an all-state selection at catcher for Coppell as a senior in 1993 and played for two years at Baylor in 1997 and 1998. In two years, it will be Walker’s turn to play for Baylor.
Walker announced his commitment to play for the Bears in a tweet that he posted to his Twitter account on July 4.
“I am extremely excited and blessed to say that I will be furthering my baseball career at Baylor University! #sicem,” he wrote.
Walker first stepped onto Baylor’s campus when he was 5 years old.
It was around that time when he first took up T-ball.
Chad was present when Walker took his first swing. Baseball quickly grew on Walker. By the time he was 10 years old, he was playing club baseball for Dallas Tigers Polk, which is coached by Chad and his former Baylor teammate, Brett Bergman.
Chad has been a great resource to Walker for anything baseball, down to the smallest detail. Whether it is a question about situational hitting, defensive strategy in a close game, or even bunting, Walker knows that his dad has an answer.
“I can talk to him about anything,” Walker said. “He knows the game so well. I can ask anything and he'll know the answer to it. Plus, with all of the recruiting, he has a relationship with all of the college coaches. So, he can tell me, things I need to know, tips and pointers about it.”
Although he is living the dream of following in his dad’s footsteps, Walker said he never felt any pressure to play baseball at Baylor. It was a decision that was left up to him. Chad wanted Walker to choose the college that made him feel the most comfortable.
Texas, Texas A&M, TCU and Alabama also showed interest, yet Baylor was always his preferred destination.
"I've always liked it,”Walker said. “Both of my parents went there. My dad played baseball there. I've always been a fan. I've never heard one bad word of going to Baylor. I've been close to (Baylor assistant) coach (Mike) Taylor for a while. I just like him and we've kind of built a relationship. Just everything about it, I like it."
However, there was a time when Polk thought his future could be in football. He burst onto the season as a freshman at linebacker and the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder finished with 116 tackles, earning him the unanimous decision for District 6-6A defensive newcomer of the year. As a sophomore, he registered 86 tackles to earn a spot on the all-district first team.
Colleges quickly took notice. Illinois State presented Walker with a Division I offer in football. Baylor and Texas A&M also showed interest.
At the same time, he realized he was just as good in baseball. Like his older brother Hudson, a recent Coppell graduate who will continue his baseball career at the University of Oklahoma, Walker made the Cowboys’ varsity team as a freshman. He finished with a .293 batting average to go along with 12 doubles and 25 RBIs.
Chad said that kind of success that early in Walker’s high school career doesn’t come as a surprise, adding that Walker has elevated his game over the past five or six years.
“He’s clutch,” Chad said. “That’s probably the most impressive thing. Scouts come to see a number of our guys on our summer team. Being physical is easy to see, really strong and lean and all that and being able to hit a ball a long way and mix up your velocity. All of those things are visual. But what the conversations that colleges are attracted to are things that you can’t see when you are around a player day-in and day-out in the dugout and you’re in a dogfight and grinding it out in a game that’s tight. That’s when a player’s character is revealed in a mental capacity.
“One thing that I like about Walker, and it shows as well in football, when you’re in a big moment, he’s mentally locked in and he’s going to compete. Whatever the result is, he’s going to compete. You can see it in his eyes, in his demeanor. He’s had clutch results in clutch moments.”
All of that success – in both football and baseball – had Walker having to choose between baseball and football.
“It was kind of a difficult decision,” Walker said. “Going to Baylor has always been a dream of mine, and I couldn't pass it up.”
It will also create for a friendly rivalry within the Polk household as Walker and Hudson will do battle in the Big 12, representing their respective schools on the baseball diamond.
“I think it's going to be fun,” Walker said. “Playing him, it's definitely going to be competitive. We're just kind of competitive guys and we always compete in everything that we do. It's going to be a fun rivalry around the house.”
Walker is the son of Chad and Jennifer Polk.