Walter Wilson is retiring as athletic director at Choctaw Central. He has taught and coached at the school for 47 years.
Walter Wilson is retiring as athletic director at Choctaw Central. He has taught and coached at the school for 47 years.

As Walter Wilson reflected on the past 47 years that he has coached and taught school at Choctaw Central High School, he didn’t talk a lot about big wins, heartbreaking losses or honors he might have received.

He wanted to thank the people who helped him along the way.

Wilson, now 73 years old, is retiring as athletic director at Choctaw Central. He has held that position for 35 years. But that was just part of his job. At one time or another, Wilson coached football, boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball, golf and track at the school.

“First, I want to thank the Lord for allowing me to work in one place for 47 years,” Wilson said. “This is something I enjoyed doing, especially in a native environment.

“I want to thank Larry Robinson, who started the athletic program here at Choctaw Central. He took a fresh-out-of-college guy who thought he knew-it-all. As it turned out, I didn’t know that much and he was there to show me the ropes and to teach me how to do my job.”

When Robinson later became the principal, Wilson moved up as head football coach, a position he held for six seasons. He was the boys basketball coach for 36 years and the girls coach for seven years. He became the athletic director in 1985.

Wilson is originally from Broken Arrow, Okla. He received his bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State, where he played football. After graduation in 1972, Wilson accepted a job as assistant football coach and head baseball coach at Choctaw Central.”

“I was recruited by Jimmy Gibson who was recruiting Native Americans across the United States,” Wilson said. “After my first year, I added boys basketball and track to my duties.”

When Wilson started, Choctaw Central competed in the old Cherokee Conference. Schools played in conferences up until 1981 when the state football playoffs started.

“We used to have some battles, especially in baseball,” Wilson said. “Baseball was big when I first got here. Durwood Munn was coaching baseball at Beulah Hubbard, we had some tough games. He also coached baseball at Choctaw Central for a few years.”

Wilson’s Warriors team won four state basketball championships. The boys won back-to-back championships, and the girls won back to back in 2004 and 2005. Both teams also placed second in the state championship tournament once.

He said the championship games will be the ones he will always remembers.

“I guess the first championship (with the boys) would be my biggest win,” Wilson said.  “There were other big ones. We beat Piney Woods in the South State one time that was big. But they came back and beat us in the state tournament.

“The championship wins were special. Our kids worked so hard to make it to the finals.”

He was named girls basketball coach of the year by The Clarion-Ledger.

Wilson enjoyed the competition and he also enjoyed the friendships he made with opposing coaches.

“I always got along with all of the other coaches,” Wilson said. “I especially enjoyed the rivalry we had with Joe Miller when he was at Southeast Lauderdale and I had the girls. Joe is a good friend.”

The feeling was mutual.

“We were rivals in basketball, but we are good friends,” Miller said. “When basketball was over, we both coached golf. So we would see each other then.
“People said we (Southeast Lauderdale) might have won more championships if it wasn’t for Choctaw Central. I don’t know if we would have won any because they made us better. Coach Wilson coached a lot of kids and everyone I know thinks highly of him.”

Wilson believed in keeping his teams busy, playing in tournaments around the state and out-of-state as well. In fact, Wilson took both the boys and girls teams to play in Canada.

“He liked to take us off the Reservation and give us a chance to see other places,” said Choctaw Central boys coach Brent Farmer, who played under Wilson. “We went to Alberto, Canada, to play in the Indigenous People tournament. 

“Coach Wilson tried to inspire us to do more through athletics. We would practice at night. Baseball or basketball, we were always playing in a tournament somewhere,” Farmer said. “I wish he wouldn’t retire. We are going to miss him.”

Wilson thanked the administrators he worked under: Katherine Trapp, Terry Ben, Randy Hodges and John Williams. He also remembered his assistant coaches, Scott Thomas, Leroy Gladney, Sean Steve, Jason “the Little Warrior” Bell and Buxey Bell.

Wilson attributes much of the continued success of the Choctaw Central basketball program to the late Barry Jim.

Wilson also spoke fondly of his former players and their families who worked to support the athletic program.

While he spent time and cared for many children during his career, Wilson admitted it took him away from his family.

“My only regret is that I wasn’t at home as much when my kids were growing up,” Wilson said. “Sometimes, we did not get paid during the summer and I had to go out and find a job, I worked in Texas one summer.

“I want to thank my wife, Louise, for being the true coach’s wife. She stayed at home and took care of the family while I went out and made a living.”

The Wilsons have four children, three boys and a girl. They have 12 grandchildren.

Wilson has even been in a movie.

“I played Chief Tuscaloosa in a film over at Auburn,” Wilson said. “It was a documentary. It was called ‘The First Frontier.’”

Wilson is retiring but you can still expect to see him at Choctaw Central basketball games.

“I hope I was as good for Choctaw Central as it was for me,” Wilson said.