KIRK WALKER LEAVES OSU
LOS ANGELES – Head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez announced on Tuesday the hiring of Kirk Walker and Jodie Legaspi-Kiaha to the positions of assistant softball coach and volunteer assistant softball coach, respectively.
“We are extremely excited to welcome back both Kirk and Jodie into the Bruin family,” Inouye-Perez said. “They both add a wealth of coaching knowledge, championship experience, and great enthusiasm in what it means to be a Bruin.”
Walker returns to UCLA after spending the previous 18 seasons as the head softball coach at Oregon State. The all-time winningest coach in program history and the fifth-winningest in Oregon State history regardless of sport, Walker posted a 594-490-3 record (.548 winning percentage) and eight seasons with at least 40 wins. The Beavers made the postseason 10 times with Walker at the helm, including the 2012 campaign, which saw Oregon State post a 36-23 mark and set team records for runs batted in (269) and runs scored (301). Under Walker’s tutelage, the Beavers earned 79 All-Pac-10/12 honors, 28 All-Region accolades and 10 All-American awards.
In 2006, Walker led the Beavers to their first-ever appearance in the Women’s College World Series, as OSU posted a school-record, 28-game winning streak and reached No. 5 in the national rankings with a 43-16 overall mark. In 2005, he guided Oregon State (43-16) to its first-ever Pac-10 Championship (and the first regular-season Pac-10 title for any OSU women’s sports program), earning Conference Coach of the Year honors for the second time (1999). The most wins in a season for Oregon State came in 1999, when the Beavers had 47 victories and went to the postseason for the first time in program history. Along with his Pac-10 COY award, Walker’s staff was named the Speedline Pacific Region Co-Coaching Staff of the Year.
Walker has also earned coaching acclaim away from the collegiate level. He was named one of 12 coaches to form the USA Softball National Team Coaches Pool through the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Walker served as an assistant for the USA Elite Team for three summers (2002-04), and also assisted the USA Red National Team during the summer of 2001.
Walker spent 11 years at UCLA from 1984-94. The Bruins won National Championships six times with Walker on the staff (`84, `85, `88, `89, `90 and `92). He earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from UCLA in 1988.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to return home professionally and personally,” Walker said. “UCLA has always been my home and my ties to Westwood make this very easy. The chance to bring my partner, Randy, and daughter, Ava, back to Los Angeles to live in close proximity to my family is incredible. I want to thank Coach Inouye-Perez, (athletic director) Dan Guerrero and (senior woman’s administrator) Petrina Long for making this a reality. I look forward to continuing the Bruin traditions I was fortunate to be a part of early in my career, and help my Bruin family, Coach Inouye-Perez and Coach Lisa Fernandez achieve competitive greatness for the softball program on and off the field.”
“The return of Kirk Walker to the UCLA softball team is an incredible addition to our program,” Inouye-Perez said. “His coaching accomplishments speak for themselves, as does his ability to make those around him better.”
Legaspi-Kiaha is also no stranger to Westwood, winning an NCAA Championship as a freshman in 2004 to go with a Pac-10 title in 2006. During her four seasons at UCLA (2004-07), Legaspi-Kiaha, a member of the U.S. Junior National Team in 2002-03, played in 230 games, recording a .342 batting average, 43 home runs, 156 runs batted in, 128 runs scored, 230 hits, 40 doubles and 96 walks. Her name is listed on the UCLA career charts five times, as she ranks seventh all-time in home runs, tied for seventh in walks, ninth in total bases (403) and slugging percentage (.599) and 10th in RBI.
“I am extremely excited to return to Westwood as the volunteer assistant coach for the Bruin softball program,” Legaspi-Kiaha said. “I have been blessed to have competed in the Bruin uniform, and I hope to impart my wisdom and experience on the next generation of Bruins. UCLA is a special place. The opportunity to come back and coach on a staff alongside Kelly Inouye-Perez, Lisa Fernandez and Kirk Walker will be a phenomenal experience for not only myself, but for my entire family. Thank you to Dan Guerrero, Petrina Long and the entire UCLA Athletic Department for welcoming me back.”
Legaspi-Kiaha was named Second Team All-Region in 2006 and is one of 25 Bruins to earn All-Conference honors all four seasons, receiving First Team honors in `06 and `07, Second Team accolades in 2004 and Honorable Mention plaudits in `05. After her playing days were over, Legaspi-Kiaha remained in Westwood in 2008 as an undergraduate assistant coach for Inouye-Perez, as the Bruins went 51-9 and returned to the Women’s College World Series.
In the fall of 2008, Legaspi-Kiaha continued her education in the master’s program at Chico State, also assisting with the softball team. She joined the Orange Coast College softball program as an assistant in the fall of 2010 and completed her master’s degree in coaching and athletic administration at Concordia University of Irvine in 2011.
“Jodie represents everything it means to be a Bruin both on and off the field through her competitive greatness, work ethic, respect and being a great role model,” Inouye-Perez said. “Jodie will have a tremendously positive impact on our current Bruins.”
“I look forward to working with this coaching staff every day because I believe we have assembled the best coaching staff in the country. We will carry on this tradition of excellence that we all take great pride in representing.”
It is with deep appreciation and gratitude that I thank Beaver Nation for the support and encouragement I have received for the program and myself over the last 18 years. I have been very fortunate to be apart of Beaver Nation and the OSU Softball program for a very large part of my professional career and I am very proud of the state of the program, the athletic department and the university. It was not an easy decision to walk away from the program after 18 years, but I am very excited about the opportunity to return to my home athletically at UCLA and back to my home in LA near close friends and family.
I want to Thank Bob De Carolis, and President Ray, and NIKE for their support both professionally and personally. I want to thank so many of the great people at the university that have affected my life, specifically Bob Clifford, Rise Alexander, Mike Riley, Tanya & Michael Chaplin, Terry Liskevych, Jacquie Babich, and Emily Ford. In addition I want to acknowledge all of the amazing staff and faculty that have been apart of my time at Oregon State University. A big thank you to all of the amazing coaches that I have had the opportunity to work along side at OSU and some of the most caring support staff personnel in the business. Specifically Heather Elkinton, Kate Halishak, John Cantalupi, and Heather Smith for their amazing heart and passion for the program.
I want to acknowledge the past, current, and future members of the OSU softball family. It has been an absolute honor and joy to be apart of building and maintaining something we are all proud of. Without a doubt the heart and soul of this program is and will always be the student-athletes. I challenge you to honor the program and your talents each and everyday with your effort and attitude. I will miss you deeply but will proudly follow your journey from afar. To the incoming classes of recruits that I have been so blessed to get to know, I am excited to watch you enter and grow during your careers. The future of Oregon State Softball is very bright and I will watch proudly from within the Pac 12 conference.
Thank you to an amazing staff, your passion and commitment inspired me daily and made my job easy. Laura Berg, Geoff Hirai, Heather Elkinton, John Cantalupi, Mikiah and Heather Smith, I will miss the laughs and the time together but I will always cherish the time we spent together this past season. I appreciate each of you immensely. Thank you.
UCLA and Oregon State are the only two universities that I have called home professionally, academically and personally. Many of the major events in my life have come while at these two institutions so they will always be near and dear to my heart. With the support of the OSU athletic department I was able to live openly with my partner Randy and adopt my daughter Ava while here. And now the opportunity to bring my family back to UCLA and back to LA to be close to my parents, sister, and brother is such a huge blessing.
So as it is in athletics, and in life, it is time to move forward, and attack the next challenges that lay in front of each of us with everything we have. The future is bright in both Corvallis and Westwood. I value and love being in the PAC 12, the Conference of Champions. GO BEAVS!, GO BRUINS! THANK YOU BEAVER NATION!