The Reign have a captain, and for the first time he is not Jon Francisco.
David Walker won the players’ vote on Wednesday to succeed Francisco, who had worn the “C” each of the previous two seasons. The captaincy has re-opened every season under head coach Karl Taylor. Francisco and defenseman Luke Beaverson were named the alternate captains for home games; Shawn Collymore and Chad Starling will be the alternates on the road.
For Walker, who has never captained a team from the start of a season in seven professional seasons, it’s a unique honor.
wanted to be part of the leadership group in some way,” said Walker, an
alternate captain each of the last two seasons. “I was a little bit
shocked. … The responsibility that comes with wearing the ‘C’ is
shared with guys like Chad Starling and Jon Francisco, who has been the
captain the last two years.”
Francisco said he spoke with Reign coach Karl Taylor about taking on a reduced leadership role this season, which he is “95 percent” sure will be his last.
“I wanted to be more of a player this year than a leader,” Francisco
said. “I wanted to have the best year I possibly can, win a
championship, and enjoy hanging out with the guys.
“I think Dave deserves
it more than I did. I think he’s the best choice.”
Francisco said that if he had won the players’ vote, he would still accept the title “and be honored.”
“I am still honored to be in the position I am in,” he added.
Walker was named captain, albeit in a
mostly honorary context, of the National Conference All-Stars at the
2010 All-Star Game at Citizens Business Bank Arena. He was also one of
several captains on the 2005-06 Long Beach Ice Dogs, who rotated the “C”
under head coach Malcolm Cameron that season. He almost did not return
to the Reign this season after scoring a summer tryout in the Deutsch
Elite League, before he was ultimately cut.
When he came back, Taylor gave Walker an honorary player/coach title. Walker’s received a mostly behind-the-scenes education from Taylor in the coaching profession, but has occasionally drawn up drills for the team in practice.
“I’m excited,” Walker said. There’s tons of guys in the room who have been leaders. A lot of different guys got votes.”
Beaverson and Collymore are in their first seasons in Ontario. Starling was one of four alternate captains two seasons ago.