In the spring of 1963, Gary Walters and the other students in
Problems of American Democracy entered their classroom at
Reading (Pa.) High one day to find the chalkboard hidden by
hanging maps. "You're probably wondering whether we're having a
pop quiz," said their teacher, Pete Carril. "We're not, but I
have a surprise announcement." With that, Carril, who doubled as
Reading's basketball coach, lifted the maps one by one to reveal
words that would forever change one senior's life: GARY WALTERS
HAS BEEN ACCEPTED AT PRINCETON.
Walters, a fleet point guard who averaged 8.3 points and 5.5
assists in his career with the Tigers, played for one season
alongside All-America Bill Bradley on a team that reached the
semifinals of the 1965 NCAA tournament. Two years later the
5'10" Walters posed for the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in a
library with center Chris Thomforde, who is now an ordained
Lutheran minister and president of St. Olaf College in
Northfield, Minn. (SI, Jan. 31, 2000). Recalls Walters, "Guys
kidded me when they saw the cover, saying, 'Gee, Gary, that's
the only time I've ever seen you in the library.'"
Three years after graduating with a degree in psychology, the
23-year-old Walters became the youngest coach in NCAA history
when Middlebury (Vt.) College hired him. After one season there
he took over a losing program at Union in Schenectady, N.Y., and
went 53-13 in three years. In 1973 Carril, who had become
Princeton's coach six seasons earlier, asked Walters to return
to his alma mater as an assistant. He stayed for two years
before leaving to head up the programs at Dartmouth and
Walters walked away from hoops in 1981 and into the world of
financial services, becoming a partner and senior vice president
at Kidder, Peabody & Co., then working at smaller firms before
Princeton beckoned yet again. In '94 the school asked Walters to
return as athletic director. "Deja vu all over again," says
Walters, who served as his old teacher's boss until Carril
retired in '96. The opportunity was irresistible to Walters.
"For those of us in education it's tantamount to a calling,"
says Walters, who has been married for 25 years and is the
father of three. "It's a way to give back."
As athletic director, Walters has overseen construction of a
27,800-seat football stadium as well as the Tigers' 83 Ivy
League titles in 30 men's and women's sports. He is most proud,
however, of his faculty fellowship program, in which professors
serve as informal academic advisers to student athletes. Mr.
Carril's former pupil knows as well as anyone the impact a
teacher can have on a student's life.
--Kristin Green Morse