Lawrence Walker of Coolidge High School, who will play wide receiver for the West in the Coaches All-Star Football Game July 19 at RFK Stadium, realizes the importance of a commitment to academics.
"I've tried to work hard in school," he said. "My parents and coaches have always said to me, 'To play football, you have to keep your grades straight.' Actually, football has given me discipline that carries over to my studies."
Walker will be one of 88 players of the Interhigh League and Metro Conference participating in the football game for seniors who have not earned an athletic scholarship. Tickets are on sale for $5 at H.D. Woodson, Theodore Roosevelt, Spingarn and Anacostia.
However, Walker has earned an academic scholarship to Virginia Union, where he hopes to play football as a walk-on with his Coolidge teammates Emmett Spencer and Marvin Wilson.
"I'm sure we can help each other there," said Robinson. "When I need to be pushed, they'll be there to do it and I'll do the same for them."
Whether or not playing in the all-star game leads to an athletic scholarship, Walker feels it will help him in his attempt to play at Virginia Union.
"Without an athletic scholarship, I'll be even more determined to make the team," he said. "This game will give me more momentum going to school next year."
Though he's happy with the academic scholarship, Walker, who caught 21 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns last season, wants to play college football on scholarship. At 5 feet 11, 175 pounds, and confident in his ability, Walker can catch passes deep with his 4.6 speed or over the middle, where he feels most comfortable.
"I think highly of myself -- feeling I can do the job," he said. "I prefer crossing patterns because I know the ball will be there waiting for me."
Walker said he owes much of his football skills and academic discipline to Sam Taylor, his coach at Coolidge. Taylor believes Walker is a good player, lost in the shuffle of many wide receivers in the Interhigh. He says Walker can be an asset to a college football program.
"Lawrence is like a technician on the field," Taylor said. "He has good hands and knows how to run pass patterns as if he's running them on the blackboard."
Last season, Coolidge finished with a 7-2 record, but the use of academically ineligible players forced the Colts to forfeit a number of games and the right to play in the Interhigh championship game Thanksgiving Day at RFK. Now, Walker is looking forward to another opportunity of playing at the stadium.
"We knew last season would end, but how it ended was unexpected," Walker said. "It means a lot to finally play at RFK. I've never been there before so it makes me want to give my best."
Walker plans to show the scouts that he is a true student-athlete, something all college coaches want. With this game probably his final chance to impress the scouts, Walker is eager for it to start.
"I've had a burning inside of me to get this game going," Walker said. "You always want to do well when playing the best in D.C. I want to get a scholarship. I've enjoyed playing football. It's been good to me and helped me learn a lot."