Guerry Clegg

Carver grad, NFL coach Tim Walton brings lessons back to their origin


As a college football coach for 14 seasons and an NFL assistant for another seven, Tim Walton has spent his entire working life mentoring some of the game’s best athletes. He has learned from the best, including Nick Saban at LSU in 2003 and Paul Pasqualoni at Syracuse the year before that.

The life lessons Walton tries to impart on his player – even established NFL veterans such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Landon Collins – were ingrained long before his coaching career began.

Even before he played at Ohio State and finished his collegiate career as a team captain.

Even before he was a standout player for Wallace Davis at Carver High School.

Those life skills were taught to him by his Fort Middle School coach – who just so happened to be his dad. Felix Walton demanded some simple things of Tim and his sister Sue, herself a great athlete who ran track at Ohio State and Tennessee.

“It starts with respect and a good work ethic,” Felix Walton said. “Respect for your parents and for others. If you don’t respect the parents who are providing for you, you’re going to have problems. You have to have respect. Football and track won’t last forever. You have the rest of your life to be a person and live for yourself.”

Tim Walton will return to his hometown this week to conduct a free seminar through his foundation, Stay Ready Foundation. It will be held Friday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the President’s Club at the CSU Lumpkin Center. The focus is on teaching coaches how to help develop their athletes into better people away from the game. The focus is on “Professional growth, development and leadership,” according to the promotional brochure.

The instructors will include his father and New York Jets assistant head coach Mike Caldwell, who is married to Sue.

Growing up on the talent-rich playgrounds of east Columbus, Walton insists he was never the best athlete on the field.

“I wasn’t a gifted athlete,” Walton said. “There were a lot of guys faster, stronger and bigger than I was. But I pride myself on my work ethic and my discipline. That’s your foundation.”

Walton has climbed the professional ladder almost to the very top. He has been a defensive coordinator in college, at Miami and at Memphis, and in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams in 2013. There have been disappointments, such as getting fired by the Rams after just one season.

Walton has never dwelled on either extreme.

“I don’t look back on my successes or my failures,” Walton said. “If you look back on your success, you can get comfortable or content. If you look back on your failures, the disappointments can drag you down where you’re not motivated.”

Walton wanted to pass on the lessons he learned from his parents that stuck with him through his coaching career. Nothing about the X’s and O’s of football. Rather, it’s the importance of preparation. That’s why he started the Stay Ready Foundation.

You can ready more on their website, Among the quotes on the website is this jewel:

“You can’t have a million-dollar dream with a minimum-wage work ethic.”

This is part of his mission statement:

“Assist people with tools to identify not only what they want from life, but also to help them find productive ways to achieve their vision. The idea is to utilize our expertise and resources to help young men and women reach their highest potential. We encourage people to plan, prepare, and perform on a consistent basis to stay ready for life. We will give them tools that will last a lifetime.”

Walton often uses the word “grind” to describe his approach to life. He means that in the most positive way, as reflected by his acronym:

“G-R-I-N-D – Get Ready, It’s a New Day”

Walton also talks about his three P’s – plan, prepare and perform.

“Stay ready for all aspects of life,” he said. “We do that to try to give back and inspire professional qualities and leadership. It’s all about leadership, manhood. My dad first is a hard worker. I watched him coming up and everything he did, his passion and his purpose.”