Long before Dylan Walker first competed in a varsity boys’ volleyball match, Flintridge Prep Coach Sean Beattie had an inkling that better days might lie ahead.
While Beattie doesn’t consider himself a prophet, he proved to be right about Walker, who would go on to become one of the more decorated players in the program’s history.
“I had him in the seventh and eighth grades at Flintridge Prep and could see that he was becoming a great passer who could swing,” Beattie said. “In his freshman year, he played on the varsity team in a playoff match.
“He had no fear at all.”
From that point on, Walker kept the same poker face and played with the same style. Additionally, he had a propensity to be an intimidator against teams who could not match his will or skill.
Walker would continue to consistently pile up kills for the talented Rebels and be a mainstay for a Flintridge Prep squad that advanced deep into the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs the past two years.
He accumulated 737 kills the past two seasons, and helped the Rebels reach the semifinals in 2007 and the quarterfinals this year.
“I think I just got more confidence to help me be more consistent,” said Walker, who was selected the All-Area Boys’ Volleyball Player of the Year by the sportswriters and editors of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun for the second straight season. “I came in not having any personal goals.
“Even if I had a bad day, I figured that I could contribute in some other way.”
Walker, a senior outside hitter who will attend the University of the Pacific in the fall, hardly had a bad day when wearing the Rebels uniform with pride. Through good times or bad, Walker lent support to teammates on the floor and showed why he was named the Prep League’s co-Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season.
When the Rebels were locked into a tight match, Walker would normally be the first to pump his fist in the air at his team’s bench for the sole purpose of keeping their spirits up.
A prime example came May 13 during a second-round playoff match against Windward at St. Francis High. Walker had 20 kills to help Flintridge Prep rally for a 25-21, 19-25, 19-25, 25-20, 15-12 victory against Windward.
Though the Rebels (13-9) would go on to lose to Salesian in the quarterfinals, it proved to be the bookend to a splendid high school career for Walker, who garnered first-team All-LA84 (formerly All-CIF) Division V accolades.
“Playing in those playoff matches in front of huge crowds was awesome,” said Walker, who finished the season with 278 kills, 150 digs and 64 aces despite injury problems. “The games seemed like they would go on forever, and I got so tired from playing hard.
“In the Windward game, we were down two games to one. I had to do something because every point mattered. You have to go hard for every point.”
Walker never strayed away from that, often putting the finishing touches on a Flintridge Prep victory with a booming kill. It came from being studious and intense.
Veteran St. Francis Coach Mark Frazee could see Walker’s athleticism improve by leaps and bounds.
“He wasn’t the go-to guy during his sophomore year,” Frazee said. “When we played them, we were able to handle him.
“As a junior and senior, he matured with his game. We didn’t have an answer for him. He became a much stronger hitter and he moved the ball around very well.”
Walker’s best year came in 2007, when he finished with an area-leading 459 kills. Just about everything went right for him.
Beattie took note from the start of the season, which saw the Rebels struggle before peaking just before the playoffs began.
“He got more and more involved,” Beattie said. “Every time we needed something, he would go out there and get it done.
“Every aspect of his game got better through the years. Watching him grow up on the court was incredible, and he’s one of the best players that I have coached. There’s really no way to put a finger on what he’s leaving behind because he’s done a lot for us during the last few years. His legacy won’t be replaced.”
Beattie was right once about Walker. He might be right again.