NORMAN, Okla. -- The Mission Statement of the University of Oklahoma Athletics Department includes the well known credo, "Inspiring champions today and preparing leaders for tomorrow."
When your team racks up 21 straight semesters with a cumulative team GPA of 3.0 or better, you are certainly preparing your student athletes for life away from the court.
That has been the case under OU women's basketball head coach Sherri Coale during her 11-year tenure. The former English teacher, with continual assistance from OU's award winning academic services department, has always emphasized the books on the same level as the basketballs.
"One of my favorite parts of gameday is seeing our former players," said Coale. "I love to share our success with them and feel their excitement for our program.
"But that pales in comparison to the pride I have in their personal successes. We have so many former players who are doing tremendous things in the community and too many times their public story ends on the sports page when they leave the basketball arena. These ladies should be celebrated for the first class ambassadors of this institution and state that they have become."
With those success stories in mind, SoonerSports.com is beginning a summer feature series that will bring to light the professional ventures of several former Sooner stars:
Elissa Walker graced Oklahoma fans on and off the court from 1989-92. She served primarily as a role player and was known for her rebounding ability.
In 1993, Walker graduated with a successful basketball career under her belt and two degrees, journalism and communications.
After graduation, she continued to be a presence in the world of sports. In 1993, Walker became Oklahoma's first women's basketball radio color commentator and served in that role until 1996.
During that time, she made her television debut as a color analyst for the Southwest Conference on Prime Sports Cable Television in 1995. That job opened up opportunities for future work as an analyst and sideline reporter for Fox Sports, NBA TV, ESPN and CBS Sports.
While Walker's career in television took off, it was on radio that she began to make a home. After her run as OU's color analyst, she landed a gig in 1998 as the host and producer of The Big E Show for Pacific Star Communications.
The show ran for two years before taking a two-year break. In 2002 the show was picked up again, this time by Fox Sports Radio. Currently, Walker's show airs in several different regions, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Along with hosting The Big E Show, she has also been co-host of Fox Sports New Mexico "Regional Sports" segment on the Mountain West and Big 12 conferences since 2005.
Aside from the success she has had on air, she is a wife and mother to two boys, Stephen Michael Jr., 5, and Eli Walker Campbell, 10 months.
"I've got the best of both worlds," said Walker. "I am able to work in the profession I love from home, allowing me to have a career I am passionate about while still being able to be a full-time mom."
In addition to her career on air, Walker servers on the Board of Directors for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Fort Worth and the Children's Advocacy Center. She is also a well-known motivational speaker in the Fort Worth area.
"I am truly living my childhood ambition and dream," said Walker. "When I look back, being the color analyst at Oklahoma was a turning point in my life. It provided me with so many opportunities and it is an experience I will never forget."