The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

48° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Q&A: Married to the game and each other

Q%26A%3A+Married+to+the+game+and+each+other

Steve Walker and Melissa Walker don’t sweat the small stuff.

Steve, Arizona volleyball’s eighth-year associate head coach, and Melissa, a first-year assistant coach, are spending almost every waking minute with one another. But at work, you wouldn’t be able to tell they’re recently married.

The Walkers are still in the honeymoon stage, but on the job, their professionalism and passion for the sport is what stands out. But their love isn’t a forbidden topic on the court.

The players have fun with it.

At the beginning of the season, each class on the volleyball team performs a skit. The not-so-shy freshmen class decided to incorporate the Walkers’ relationship into their skit.

“We just did it on the coaches for a typical day at practice, it was awesome,” said freshman outside hitter Madi Kingdon. “There was this one part where Melissa was sitting in the corner of the court, because she always squats at the corner. Then Rachel (Rhoades) was Steve, and Halli (Amaro) was Melissa. Rachel walked up behind Halli and mounted her and was like, ‘Oh hey babe.’” And, she was like ‘Hey babe.’ It was so awkward, but really funny.”

The Walkers sat down with the Daily Wildcat to share how their devotion to volleyball led to an even greater kind of love.

How did you two meet?

Steve Walker: I graduated from Long Beach State in 1997 and played there and coincidentally Melissa went to Long Beach State and played there.

Melissa Walker: I played at Long Beach after he was there, and then got into coaching right after I finished playing. When we met, he was coaching at UC Davis, and I was at Long Beach. Eventually after that, he moved back here to take this job and I moved out to be with him. This job (assistant coach) opened up and we’re giving it a try.

Would you say volleyball brought you two together?

S: I definitely think it was through volleyball. How I like to tell the story, and there are different variations of this story, but Melissa was coming out here (Tucson) to coach camp one year, and I knew just based on her pedigree, just on her coaching pedigree that she was going to be a great coach and a great teacher of the game. If we fast forward, I knew that her being in town would only benefit the program and the players if we could somehow get her involved, and bringing her on last year as a volunteer was great and now having her on staff full time has been a real blessing for the players.

What did you guys do for your first date?

M: We had always known of each other, but didn’t really know each other very well. Then I was coaching club volleyball and he was recruiting some of my players so that was probably the first time I actually talked to him, and just through mutual friends they kind of set us up I guess.

When did you get married?

S: This past summer, on June 11 in Lake Tahoe.

Newlyweds! Did you two go on a honeymoon?

S: We went to Cancun for a week, and it was about what you would expect — it was great. We stayed at the resort the whole time and it was beautiful weather, beautiful beach and just very relaxing.

Nice. Let’s rewind back to who proposed and how it happened?

M: He proposed.

S: Somehow I was able to keep it a surprise, I haven’t been very good about that. Even going all the way back to when we first started dating. For her birthdays, she always got her presents early, because I couldn’t never hold the surprise in. It was New Years Eve 2009, and we were vacationing in Hawaii. I tried to (propose) right at sunset and proposed on the beach at Waikiki.

M: It was pretty good.

So romantic, did the Hawaii tournament at the beginning of the season bring back great memories?

M: That was probably our fifth trip back. It’s our traditional spot. But yes, because we got engaged there, it’s an excuse to go back.

S: On previous road trips, I’d point out the spot on the beach where we got engaged every time we passed it, and the players would give us a hard time. It was pretty funny.

How is working with each other, every single day?

M: It’s probably easier than most people would think. We don’t fight, period. I think that helps. We never have to come into work mad and try to work together, and it helps that we have separate offices too, so it’s not like we’re in each other’s faces all day.

S: For me, working together has been great. One, we truly enjoy being around each other, and two, we share a lot of same interests off the court. We don’t even argue when we’re at home, so being at work I think our strengths really play well into one another. Her strengths are quite different than mine on the court and I think the same thing can be said about my strengths on the court. Even if we didn’t agree on something, I don’t think we’re the type of personalities to argue, and I don’t want to do anything like that in front of the players.

But is it difficult to keep your work life separate from home, or is it welcomed?

M: We talked about volleyball when I didn’t even work here, because we both know volleyball. So even before I started working here, he would come home and talk about volleyball.

S: We’re both passionate about it and it’s not something I think we need to escape from. We really enjoy talking philosophy, technique, team and all those things. I don’t think we need to make a rule to not talk about it.

Earlier you mentioned other interests, what else do you guys enjoy?

M: (Laughs) Traveling would be one.

S: I think the job is so demanding, we really enjoy just unwinding when we get a chance. And we spend so many hours here that when we can get away, get out of town, to find a beach and just relax.

M: We enjoy other sports. We always have football or something on at home that’s sports-related. We try to go to as many games as we can. We usually go to Cardinal games or Suns games or the Lakers games when we’re in California.

Cool, where’s the favorite place to travel?

M: I would say Hawaii.

More to Discover
Activate Search