Tarik Walker to be inducted into Baltimore Blast Hall of Fame
Former player and assistant coach to be honored on Feb. 16
Tarik Walker drives past the Philadelphia KiXX's Shawn Beyer during a 2000 game. (Baltimore Sun photo by Kim Hairston / January 25, 2013)
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Walker, who played 10 seasons in Baltimore, served as an assistant coach for part of the 2005-06 season and retired from playing after the 2006-07 season. He will be honored in a ceremony during halftime of the Blast's game against the Wichita Wings.
After the then-Baltimore Spirit selected him in the 1993 National Professional Soccer League draft, Walker won the league's Rookie of the Year award in 1994 and played on Major Indoor Soccer League championship teams with the Blast in 2003, 2004 and 2006.
"It's definitely an honor to be up there with those guys that we looked up to while playing, and also some of the guys I played with who set a path as far as how to be a professional, how to treat the game and how to take care of yourself," Walker said. "So I definitely respect the group that is in there now and to be part of it is definitely an honor. I was definitely humbled about it."
Walker ranks second on the Blast's all-time scoring list with 582 points. He also ranks second in goals, two-point goals and game-winning goals, as well as third all-time in games played and fourth in assists.
"As a player, you always want to do your job and do the best you can, but you never look into the future about being in the Hall of Fame," Walker said. "So when you take a look at those names that are up there and it comes to fruition that your name is going to be up there as well, it's truly humbling and I really appreciate it.
Walker had a career-high 112 points in the 1998-99 season and served as team captain from 2003 to 2005.
"Tarik was a quiet leader with great skill," Blast owner Ed Hale said in a news release. "I will always remember him for stepping up in the postseason, particularly when the team was decimated by injuries."
People already in the Baltimore Blast Hall of Fame are: original Blast coach Kenny Cooper, former players Stan Stamenkovic, Mike Stankovic, Tim Wittman, Bruce Savage, Dave MacWilliams, Joey Fink, Heinz Wirtz, Keith Van Eron, Dominic Mobilio, Billy Ronson, Richard Chinapoo, Cris Vaccaro, Pat Ercoli, Doug Neely, Danny Counce and Rusty Troy, as well as original MISL commissioner Earl Foreman.
The Blast (14-4) returns to 1st Mariner Arena this weekend to host the Rochester Lancers on Friday and the Missouri Comets on Saturday. Both games are scheduled for 7:35 p.m.
Friday: Rochester Lancers, 7:35 p.m.
Saturday: Missouri Comets, 7:35 p.m.
Site: 1st Mariner Arena
Outlook: After a rough start to their recent four-game road trip, the Blast (14-4) return to Baltimore out of first place in the Major Indoor Soccer League standings for the first time this season. They trail the Milwaukee Wave (13-2) by 1/2 game. The Blast dropped a 13-8 decision on the road to the Chicago Soul on Jan. 11 and then lost to the Wave, 12-10, the following night before winning two games against the last-place Syracuse Silver Knights last weekend. Returning home against Rochester and Missouri could boost Baltimore back to first place again. The Blast has dominated the Lancers so far this season, winning all four meetings, including three in a five-game stretch to begin 2013. The Lancers have the league's top two scorers in Doug Miller (67 points) and Mauricio Salles (63), but they have averaged just eight points per game against the Blast. The Comets' Byron Alvarez (60 points) is the league's third-highest scorer, but Missouri is 0-2 so far this season against the Blast. Look for the Blast to continue its winning ways this weekend with solid defense and balanced scoring. Machel Millwood leads the way for the Blast with 55 points, good for fifth in the MISL.