Ed Walton has coached many hundreds of Country Day student-athletes during his coaching career. A member of the coaching staff since 1974, Walton has been a steadfast role model for the students he has coached and the individuals he has coached alongside. Since retiring as the manager of Buccaneer varsity baseball in 2004, Walton has served as an assistant coach with the program.
Among his many accomplishments, Walton was a five-time NCISAA Coach of the Year and three-time Mecklenburg County Coach of the Year. He coached the Bucs to 540 wins, 15 conference championships and nine state titles. He was recently presented the Coach Lou Presutti Contributions to the Game of Baseball Award, is an honorary alumnus of Country Day, has the Upper School baseball facility named for him, and was inducted into the North Carolina Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in December.
Walton recently discussed what the Country Day community has meant to him and his family, which includes two children (Kelly Walton Miller ’90 and Kristen Walton Wester ’93) and six grandchildren who are current students.
Question: What is it like to coach at one school for such a long period of time?
Ed Walton: I have been fortunate enough to have been involved in the baseball program for 43 years. Having spent such a length of time involved in one program at Country Day allows for some ‘'full-circle'’ moments. One of the most fun and rewarding benefits of my time is getting to coach the sons of former players. In 2017, I am presently coaching the fifth such player. Alex Owen, whose father Dale was a key player on the 1978 Championship team, was the first. There are four such players on this year’s team: Gregory and Maxwell Purdy (twin sons of alumnus Steve Purdy ’87); John Hosmer (son of alumnus John Hosmer ’85); and Henry Merchant (son of alumnus Brandon Merchant ‘91).
Q: What is one of your favorite aspects of coaching?
EW: One of the many blessings, and accomplishments, of our program is having guys graduate from college and come back to be involved in our program as coaches. Some have come back to take over significant roles in the program, and others have volunteered their time when needed—Mike Cofer, Mike Eury, Sammy Gilbert, Aaron Cantley, Mark Wells, Drew Witman, Cory Hicks and Brandon Merchant, to name a few. Watching the alumni roll up their sleeves to work with the young players is truly gratifying.
Q: What is your best Country Day Baseball memory?
EW: The proudest accomplishment in my entire career, with all due respect to the “Miracle on the Mountain," (referencing the 1993 comeback in Asheville from down 12-3 against Charlotte Latin to win the NCISAA state title, 15-14, in a ‘‘would-not-believe-it if-I-hadn’t-seen-it-with-my-own-eyes’' style…) is being associated with the players who spent a brutally hot July Saturday playing a baseball marathon to raise money for a stricken coach they didn’t know. These guys stepped up and played baseball from 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m. in sweltering heat with the hopes that what they were doing would draw attention and support for a Sun Valley assistant coach who had suffered severe brain trauma as a result of being hit by a line drive in a routine batting practice. Their efforts helped to draw the financial backing of the baseball community to the tune of $21,000, which went directly to the coach's young family to help them during this critical time. Watching those kids pour their heart and soul into this event and make a life-changing difference for someone was the highlight of my career.
This spotlight is part of a series highlighting some of the many contributors to the athletics community over Charlotte Country Day School’s 75 years. For more information on Country Day’s year-long celebration, please visit the 75th Anniversary web page.