Jackson Academy is happy to welcome Coach Brandt Walker as associate athletic director. In addition to his associate director role, Walker is the defensive coordinator for the Junior High football team and assists with Varsity football and the boys and girls track teams. Walker comes to JA with 14 years of coaching experience, including a decade as football and track coach at Jackson Prep.
As he begins his new role, Walker intends to highlight the Athletic Department’s existing strengths. Part of his job is keeping up with logistics such as ticket sales, player eligibility, and the athletic calendar. Of Walker’s plans, the one that brings the most excitement to his voice is his plan to elevate the fan experience. When he describes Fridays at JA, you can feel fall football in the air.
“I love Fridays during football season,” he explained. “It’s an experience unlike any other. Going to pep rallies and then after three o’clock when school is out and they are starting to cook the hamburgers in the concession stand..the music is going…it’s the greatest time of year.” That tangible excitement is what Walker hopes to ignite in others by promoting athletics through social media and collaboration with the Raider Network, an internet broadcast that highlights student achievements in athletics and arts while exposing students to the latest opportunities in broadcasting and production.
‘The Raider Network is phenomenal,” said Walker. “There is nothing like it in the state. Even the places that we play watch Raider Network. They watch it because it is such good quality.”
Walker’s passion for coaching is driven by the interpersonal relationship built
between coach and athlete. He enjoys building rapport with students early and watching them mature and progress. Walker shares how the relationship between coach and athlete doesn’t end at graduation, “Years later, after a former athlete graduates, you go to
someone’s wedding and a former player approaches you and shares how they are sorry for the stupid things they did when you coached them, apologizing for the way they acted, and then they say thank you. You can’t put money on that. Those experiences are awesome.” He is also proud when he sees his former players thriving in their careers. “Those moments where you see their success is truly what it is all about,” he said.
Besides coaching for 10 years at Jackson Prep, two years at Copiah Academy, and while attending college, two years at Simpson Academy, Walker himself attended an independent school, Simpson Academy. Like many coaches before him, Walker took a coaching hiatus. He tried his hand in sales. “I wanted to get back into coaching; it is what I was made to do,” he said. His wife recognized his bent for coaching and encouraged him to return to the job he loved. “She told me, ‘I want you to be a coach again. I know that’s what makes you happy—it’s what you were created to do.”
Walker is married to Jennifer, the director of professional development at the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, and their daughter, Mary Hampton, is a sixth grader at JA.
Walker looks forward to many Fridays spent cheering on the Raiders. “Everybody’s got a pep in their step on Fridays. I have game day pants that I wear. This tradition started when I was given the pants as a gift at Prep and has continued at JA. Last week a package appeared in my box and it was, you guessed it, Raider colored game day pants. The tradition continues.”