Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Walking with Zimmerman: An Exclusive Interview

Sophomore Walker Zimmerman talks about his aspirations as he plays Furman soccer and beyond.
Courtesy of Furman Athletics

Sophomore Walker Zimmerman has repeatedly made headlines for Furman soccer this year, especially with their 11-3-3 record so far this season.

But recently, Zimmerman has popped the Furman bubble and has moved into the international soccer realm. This tough defender was added to the Men’s National Under-20 team this past year after his involvement in the U-18 cycle.

In mid-October, Zimmerman and the team went to Spain to represent the U.S. in the Marbella tournament.

“Once you get [to the match] and hear the National Anthem playing,” he explains, “It’s just a different experience… [because] you know you are playing for your country.”

The Marbella tournament matched up the U.S. with Azerbaijan, Scotland and Canada. After suffering a 1-2 loss against Canada, the U-20 boys scored a 2-0 win over Scotland. The next game against Azerbaijan was the greatest challenge.

“They were a very technical team…[with] skilled players,” said Zimmerman. Knowing this, Zimmerman and team responded with high pressure on the defense, resulting in turnovers during the 90 minutes of play.

The score bounced back and forth until the referee blew the whistle for the 3-2 American win.

Despite these satisfying moments and international traveling, playing for the U-20 team requires dedication and “being focused day in and day out,” said Zimmerman. Not only are the players working together to become a strong, competitive team, but everyone “know[s] that you are competing for a spot on the [World Cup] team.”

But for Zimmerman, he pushes toward landing a spot on the team, drawing inspiration from his two older brothers, who “bring out [his] competitive spirit” and remembering advice from the Furman men’s soccer coach, Doug Allison.

Like many sports stars, Zimmerman started from a humble background. Starting soccer at age four in the community league, he bounced around positions until he found his permanent role in defense at 13.

Throughout his career thus far, he played for the Georgia state team at age 12 and the Region III Southeast team at 13 until he dove into the National Team system at 14. But nothing could replace the memory of the first team he played for: “My first team was the U-6 Pink Panthers. We actually went undefeated in our youth co-ed league,” said Zimmerman, as he laughs.

In the future, Zimmerman has hopes of playing soccer professionally.

Until then, Zimmerman pursues his Communications major at Furman and spends his free time on the radio waves for WPLS.

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