This summer there was a changing of the guard in HISD sports. Andre Walker was promoted to director of athletics for the district. He spent the past 18 years with HISD as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and most recently as a senior athletics program administrator for the Athletics Department.
Walker received a B.S. in Business Administration from Texas Southern University and master’s in Education from Prairie View A&M University.
He is a member of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, National Federation of State High School Association, Texas High School Coaches, Texas Girls Coaches Association, and the Houston Coaches Association. He serves on the Official’s Advisory Committee for the Texas High School Athletic Director Association.
Walker talked with the Defender about his journey to becoming AD and the people who contributed to his career.
Defender: Tell us about your journey to this position.
Walker: I’m an HISD product. I went to Kashmere High School, Terrell Middle School and Chatham Elementary School. So, I am HISD all the way through. I’ve been a part of the district my entire life because my brothers and sisters attended before me, nieces and nephews after me.
I’ve matriculated through the district my entire life. I went from there to receive my undergrad degree from Texas Southern. I then started working at Key Middle school as a substitute teacher and that’s where I got my start in the district in teaching. I went on to Prairie View A&M to receive my master’s and I’m actually working on my doctoral degree now trying to finish that up. And that’s the road I’ve taken to get where I am now.
Defender: What are the duties and responsibilities of an athletic director and why is the position important?
Walker: You have to identify things that are going to help your coaches help the kids. If coaches are prepared and they know the rules, with professional development, they will be better suited to help the kids. I think that is the main thing. You also have the facilities that you have to keep up with and scheduling bus transportation, all those things go into an athletic director [position].
I think the big thing is coaching the coaches because when you have good coaches in the right positions, they’re gonna do well by the kids and that’s what you want…That’s why it’s important because you’re touching so many kids’ lives, not only the athletes. Think about all the people coming to the games. You not only have the parents and students from those schools but there are so many other people that just love high school sports.
Defender: Who are some of your mentors and what lessons did you learn from them?
Walker: Of course my parents were major mentors in my life. I was blessed to have my mom and dad in my life. My community was a major mentor in how they looked after me, watched over me and wouldn’t allow me to do certain things. They supported me. The community was huge.
In coaching, my mentor was Gary Dunham, head football coach at Kashmere. Our relationship is off the chart. I played under him, I coached with him and now I sit in the role where I supervise him. I call him Uncle Dunham. In the athletic world, Marmion Dambrino [former HISD athletic director] has given me all sorts of opportunities and has prepared me for this job. I still have a long way to go but those folks have really played a major part in where I am today.
About the department
- Operates four sports complexes, which serve Houston’s schools with game sites, game control and equipment storage and repair.
- Athletic programs serve students in grades 7-12 at 24 high schools and 43 middle schools.
- Programs include baseball, basketball, cross-country, football, golf, soccer, softball, swim, tennis, track and field, volleyball and wrestling.