If you have ever been to, worked at, or attended Walpole High School, you most certainly know Mr. Jim Erker. Before, most students knew him solely as the funny substitute teacher—the one who could usually be spotted stretching at various times during the school day. Erker was the sub that every student hoped for; however, this year, he can be recognized for a much different reason. His dedication and willingness to help Walpole High School was proven when he was asked to be the sub for a more significant position—the Athletic Director.
After Athletic Director Mr. William Tompkins was diagnosed with cancer and found out he needed surgery during the 2013 school year, Erker was asked to be the provisional AD for Tompkins. Erker had previously worked as the AD at WHS for eight years before retiring in 2006—giving him the much needed experience. Although he was definitely ready to retire after teaching history for 36 years and working as the AD for eight years, Erker had no qualms about stepping in when he heard that Tompkins and the school he loves were in need of help.
Tompkins and Erker have been great friends and colleagues since 1972 when they coached track and basketball. They each continued to coach various sports including cross country, soccer, and baseball. Last spring, Tompkins knew he would need some assistance for the end of the 2013 spring season as well as the 2013 fall season. Without hesitation, Erker agreed to fill in.
Tompkins kept everything in order, which made it easy for Erker to seamlessly transition into the AD position. Knowing each other well, it was never difficult for them to stay in contact; they talked to each other on the phone almost every day discussing upcoming events around the school. Erker said, “Tompkins is so knowledgeable and helpful in all matters of sports.”
Being the Athletic Director is a very difficult task that requires pure devotion and hard work. Erker, comically, said , “I do remember now why I retired.” Despite the work, he really enjoyed working with all of the coaches and kids. Although the job consists mostly of scheduling, a huge part of it is directly dealing with different people. Erker appreciates those who aided him in his return to the high school, whether they were teachers, coaches, parents, or players. After returning to what had been his “second family” for so many years, Erker was reminded of why he loved his job as AD. Appreciating all athletes and the sports that they play, Erker said, ”I love how Walpole athletes compete with such a positive attitude.”
Erker specifically stepped up big when Walpole High School’s sports were entering their fall seasons. Any athlete would say they saw Erker several times a week, whether it was at their practices or games; he was always checking in—supporting each and every team. Senior Lauren Reagan of the girls soccer team said, ” Erker, always encouraging us or wishing us luck , was a huge part of our season. We all could tell he sincerely cared about us.”
One of the most significant roles he played was overseeing what turned out to be one of the most successful seasons for fall sports. With Erker as AD, girls soccer made it to the semi-finals in the south sectionals, boys soccer made it to the State Championship, swimming and diving had three State Champions, cross country’s Allie Morris went to All-States and lastly, field hockey, for the 11th time in history, became State Champions.
Now that the Winter Sports season is ongoing, Tompkins has returned to being AD full time; however, Erker willingly continues to help out whenever he is needed. Walpole High School certainly missed Tompkins and is very glad he is back. At the same time, both students and faculty are thankful for all of Erker’s hard work and commitment over the past few months.