New Mesa State women’s coach wants to build a solid program

Roger Walters was named the new women’s basketball coach for Mesa State College Wednesday.

Nine-year-old Elly Walters grins up at her dad Roger Walters as he adjusts the shoulders of her new Mesa State College basketball T-shirt after he was named the new coach for the women’s team Wednesday at Saunders Fieldhouse.

Roger Walters turned two high school boys programs into winners; now, he’ll try his hand with the Mesa State College women’s basketball program.

The Mesa State graduate with 12 years high school coaching experience was introduced as the new Mesa State women’s basketball coach at a press conference Wednesday at Saunders Fieldhouse.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to coach at the highest level,” Walters said. “It’s one of those things you try to push yourself.

“There are so many successful coaches here, like Coach (Jim) Heaps and (Chris) Hanks.

They’ve built great programs here. I’m looking forward to working with them and build something with them.”

Walters replaces Timi Brown, who resigned Jan. 24. The Mavericks were 6-21 this season and were 58-77 in her five years.

Mesa State Athletic Director Butch Miller said Walters was chosen not only for his success at the high school level, but because of his personality.

“The one we have in front of us is a proven winner,” Miller said. “The last five years, he’s won 115 games, lost 17. The more we researched, the more we found out he’s an even better person and family man. We’re excited to have him as our new basketball coach.

“What he brings to the table with his family is a huge step in the right direction for this program.”

Walters and his wife, Christy, have two daughters, Taylor, 14, and Elly, 9. He said the women in his life have prepared him to coach a women’s team.

“Those three over there (his wife and daughters) have trained me well,” Walters said. “As far as (coaching women), I don’t think it will change. It will be fun. It will be a challenge.

“Basketball is basketball in terms of men or women. I’ve met a couple of the players, but we’ll meet as a team (today).”

A handful of the Mesa State players were at the press conference, including junior guard Hannah Walsh, a Grand Junction High School graduate.

“I can’t wait (to get started),” she said. “I’m so excited for him to be the coach. I’ve heard some great things about him. I think the team is excited. It seems like he has the best interest for all of us.”

Current Mesa State men’s basketball player, Aaron Markham, played for Walters during Walters’ first two years at Roaring Fork in 2003-04 and 2004-05.

“He completely changed the face of Roaring Fork,” Markham said. “We were hanging in the middle of the pack. He changed that. He knows what he’s doing and cares about his players.

He cares about doing a good job. You talk about running through a brick wall, all his players want to do that for him.

“He is able to get his teams to transfer what they do in practice to the games, which all coaches try to do, but it’s not easy.”

Walters, who hopes to have an assistant coach hired by July, will evaluate the players on the roster now and start recruiting immediately.

His connections to the Western Slope will give him a quick start.

“I think Junction is a hotbed for basketball,” Walters said. “There’s been a lot of great players come from here. In years past, the women who have thrived on the Western Slope have come here. Knowing all the coaches on the Western Slope will help.”

Those connections were highly regarded by the search committee, Miller and a group of community members who were consulted during the hiring process.

“In this community, a lot of people care about Mesa State,” Miller said. “They were excited to help. In terms of their input, we took it to heart.”


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