January 20, 2010 9:31:00 AM
Ever since playing in his first match at the age of 4, Houston Walker has enjoyed playing soccer.
He enjoyed playing in Columbus and Tupelo recreation soccer leagues and for six years as a member of the Columbus High School soccer team.
With his high school career nearly completed, Walker will get to continue to play the sport he enjoys next season in college.
Walker''s future came into focus Tuesday when he signed a scholarship to play soccer at Itawamba Community College in Fulton.
The Columbus High senior signed in the school library in the company of ICC coach Mike Sullivan, CHS coach Javier Esquivel, Columbus Athletic Director Rusty Greene, and his parents, Bill and Lucy Anne Walker.
"I''ve been looking at (ICC) for a couple of years, and I like their program and their facilities," Walker said. "They were real nice. I like their coach, also. He works hard. He can show me a lot."
Walker''s father believes his son was destined to play soccer almost from the time he was old enough to walk.
"He was dribbling a ball when he was 18 months old and he''s always had good hand-eye coordination," Bill Walker said. "He always carried a ball around with him and was kicking a ball. He wasn''t a kid who did puzzles. Soccer just seemed to be his sport because of all of the running around that is involved with soccer. Pretty much every summer he''s done something with soccer."
Walker and the Falcons (7-5) have two regular-season matches remaining. As a sweeper, which is more of a defensive position, Walker has scored five goals (three penalty kicks) and has eight assists this season.
ICC employs a different defensive scheme than Columbus with two central defenders and two outside defenders in a flat-back four instead of having a sweeper and stopper.
Sullivan, who was the soccer coach at Columbus High from 1996-97 and is in his ninth year at ICC, projects Walker as a central defender.
"I think he''ll come in and compete immediately for a starting spot," Sullivan said. "I think if he continues to do the things I''ve seen him do, he''ll have a good chance to play next year.
"He''s good with the ball. He seems to really do a good job of finding people and making good passes. I''ve seen him do a good job on offense, which is what I really look for in a defender."
Walker doesn''t believe he will have to adjust from sweeper to an inside defensive position.
"I''ve played inside before and I like that better," Walker said.
Walker said he likes ICC''s style of play.
Esquivel believes Walker has a good future at ICC.
"I think he''s got a lot of talent," Esquivel said. "If you''re involved in a sport you like and you keep going, going and going, there''s going to be a moment to have an opportunity like he has right now."