Walk-On Warrior

Drive, Discipline and the Will to Win

This is a book about how much hard work it takes to make it to the top collegiate level of basketball. About a small town great player becoming just not quite good enough even though the work ethic never faltered and the enthusiasm remained unabridged. It delves into the meat market of basketball and the AAU scene. But most of all it relates a story of never giving up and the thrill of seeing accomplishments from it.

John Willkom grew up in small town Wisconsin and from the start was a star basketball player in his area of more small towns. It takes us from those moments to a bit of unhappiness at a lower level college program to a walk-on player as a Division 1 program at Marquette sees something in him that makes the walk-on offer. After a positive experience in AAU and then the desire to just go to Marquette for the education after a myriad of losing in D3 basketball. He begins a process to stay close to the game.

It all started with assistant coach Brian Wardle reaching out to him after watching his abilities, albeit at a lower level, to considering walking on to the Marquette program due to numbers being low. No promises made except it is hard work every step of the way. After discussion with his family it was a  decision to try. Now the hard work to make the team as a walk-on began in earnest and it was a difficult thing. You don’t just show up on the first day. Also, there is a new thing called going to class that can interfere with athletics.

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Author Willkom goes into details about the activities they put him through which almost led to exhaustion and the interactions with head coach Tom Crean concerning his hard work. The book is marvelous in relating those stories. Even after those days were gone he goes into the wonderful relationship he developed with college head coach Rick Majerus.

Basketball fans will love the book but even more, it becomes a rallying cry for parents to get their basketball crazed sons and daughters to gain an understanding what it makes to make it at the Division 1 level of basketball. You may wish to add this book as a present for the aspiring athlete and the hard work transcends between sports.


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