More Than Soccer at BGSU


Women’s soccer head coach Jimmy Walker during an interview on the pitch

Michael Boyd and Ella Hu, 2023 journalism camp

Deep in the cornfields of Ohio lies Bowling Green State University, a college with around 20,000 students studying within their school campus. Sports plays an enormous part of most any college experience, and BGSU is no exception. Despite not being one of the major five sports at BGSU, the women’s soccer team thrives as a community. The team attracts student athletes, coaches and faculty alike to their program, forging long-lasting bonds and developing morals that last a lifetime. 

“It’s not really a job. I get to coach soccer every single day, normally with a group of people I really enjoy being around”, says BGSU women’s soccer team head coach, Jimmy Walker. He coached served as an assistant for the Falcons in 2011, left the program before returning as head coach in 2020. Along with his love for soccer, he said he also genuinely enjoys coaching the women on the team. Walker created a community for the women’s soccer team to enjoy, one that he said he hopes will continue to last for generations. So far, he led his teams to four consecutive MAC championships before losing last year’s title on penalty kicks. She said he hopes for more championships. 

Likewise, new assistant coach Olivia Thompson shares Jimmy’s goal to help the team win more MAC titles. She, like many of the current staff, said the community attracted her to BGSU.

“It’s a really high quality, Division I – very competitive, and they have cultures within that group, and that attracted me to the program,” she said. “I knew I had to join.”

She said she sees BGSU as a competitive team that can not only compete and win games, but also as a team with great culture, players, coaches, and staff. She said Walker and the players drew her to the program.

“Probably Jimmy’s take and his coaching philosophy, he’s a really good character [and] he’s got a lot of experience, I knew I could learn from him,” she said. “But also the girls as well, they were just such a great group. They wanna win, they wanna learn, they wanna work hard, that kind of atmosphere, that kind of culture, it just really attracted me to it.”

Bernie Compton,  another key member of the coaching staff, helps create that atmosphere for players and coaches like Thompson. As the director of operations, her job comes with a lot of responsibility. She creates all the scheduling and travel accommodations for the team, along with managing the team’s social media (@bgsu_wsoccer). Despite all the work, she says she enjoys being busy all the time, and it helps that she has a “great staff with her,” who always helps her out. As well as having a strong bond with her staff, she said she has amazing relationships with the players.

“I think they all love me?” she said, laughing.

BGSU’s women’s soccer program forges strong relationships between players, coaches, and other faculty members such as Compton. She says a lot of the bonds she made with players on the team have continued to grow, even after the players graduate and become alumni. The alumni continue to help the program operate as the program gets most of its funding from donations, from people such as parents, and alumni.

The tight relationships BGSU women’s soccer program has created not only within themselves, but also the community helps the program to thrive. Over the four years that most players have with the team, they develop close bonds with teammates and staff alike.

“Seeing them as freshmen and then seeing how they move forward to become seniors, and the maturity and the life skills they learned…is a really rewarding part of the job,” Walker said

The morals the team, coaches, and faculty instilled into the program help players grow not only in their game, but also as people. The way the team works together on and off the field shows that for them, it’s more than just soccer.

Listen to Michael’s audio story