A&M Consolidated Football Coach Teaches From a Different Perspective

By: Shane McAuliffe Email
By: Shane McAuliffe Email

It's practice as usual for the A&M Consolidated Tigers.

The team is getting ready for the first week of the high school football playoffs and every play is under the watchful eye of their coaches.

That includes one of Consol's longest tenured coaches, Kyle Walsh.

Walsh makes sure the offensive line blocks, protects, and moves the ball when the Tigers offense is on the attack.

"Seems like I haven't been here that long. Seems like I was just playing here," said Walsh.

Walsh was part of the 1991 A&M Consolidated State Championship Team. He played center and was short on words the day of the title game.

"Third time and I don't know, there's nothing I can say to describe how good it feels. Words can't describe it." Walsh said after the game in 1991.

"Everybody came together and really just achieved something that perhaps shouldn't have been done on paper but things rolled and we just had a great run," said Walsh 20 years later.

Walsh went on to walk on at The University of Texas and the college freshman was returning to Austin after celebrating his 19th birthday in College Station when life threw him an awful blindside.

"I was with my friend Ryan Schwab, in Manor, we had a blow out. (We) lost control, don't know exactly what happened but basically it was pulling me off the road so when I corrected a little bit, it shot me towards oncoming traffic and then I corrected back. The truck spun and rolled into the ditch 3 or 4 times. My side of the car was caved in and broke my neck somewhere along the way there. I remember saying, I can't feel my legs. I have vague memories of it, I guess it's one of those things that God protects you there and takes those memories out. I don't have a lot of recollection of it," said Walsh, who is since paralyzed from the waist down.

Kyle started his rehab just two weeks after the accident. Getting used to life in a wheelchair wasn't easy but Kyle kept a positive attitude and tackled his new predicament head on.

"I needed to be challenged and if I was going to be able to handle this and deal with the changes, staying at home wasn't the way to do it. It was to get out and learn through experience," said Walsh.

Kyle lived in California for a year before returning to Texas and finishing up his degree at UT. After graduation, Kyle moved back to College Station after getting a job offer at his alma-mater.

"It's been a lot of fun. It's been just a unbelievable opportunity to come back to my hometown, work with people that coached me and taught me when I was in school. And to work with some incredible kids," said Walsh.

"I never questioned his knowledge but I questioned how he was going to do it. And then to see him do it answered it," said A&M Consolidated senior Cameron Cermin.

Cermin is an offensive lineman and not the only one who had to take a double take when his coach had a different perspective on the game.

"When they first get here, they're like, who is this guy in the wheelchair. I hope just from being around, that before long the chair disappears and they listen to me as a person and as a coach and hopefully I've said enough good things over their four years that they think I know what I'm talking about sometimes," said Walsh.

And thanks to Cermin's size, ability, and Walsh's coaching, the senior will be heading to Purdue next year.

"I want to thank him. He put together my highlight tape and basically got me recruited. So thanks," said Cermin.

Coach Walsh is very proud of the success his players have had at A&M Consolidated over the years but it's the coaching he does at home that really lights up his life.

"It's been neat to see Kyle be a daddy. He's a great Dad," said Kyle's wife, Audra.

Kyle's life took another turn in 2004 when he met his future wife Audra in a book store.

"It just happened that the prettiest girl in Barnes and Noble was sitting right next to me," said Walsh.

The two started a relationship that blossomed into marriage in just two years.

And just last year, they welcomed their daughter Adalee into their lives.

"No doubt these are the two best things that ever happened to me. These two girls in my life are just things that I'm so thankful for," said Walsh.

"We're having a really good life together. Kyle is an amazing husband and a great father. I'm just really thankful for our home and our blessings. It just couldn't get better," said Audra.

During the off season, Kyle makes time for his favorite sport off the field, scuba diving.

"I think scuba diving is great for anybody but for somebody with a disability, to have gravity eliminated, I can go swim wherever I want, do flips, do everything independently in the water. It is kind of a freeing thing for somebody with a disability," said Walsh.

For 19 years, Kyle has lived his life in a chair but thanks to football, friends, and family he now sees the world in a whole new light.

"If I could back now and change that day, there's no way I would go back and change that day. I wouldn't be able to experience the things I've experienced. I wouldn't be able to have the people in my life that are in my life. My family, my wife and daughter, my friends that I work with at school. There's no way that I'd go back and change that day. As hard and challenging as it may have been on that day, to think about not being where I'm at right now is something I'd never want to take away," said Walsh.

Kyle Walsh, providing the Tigers with a role model, coach, and champion.

Coach Walsh and the rest of the A&M Consolidated football team will be hitting the road this weekend in the first round of the high school football playoffs.

The Tigers take on the DeSoto Eagles in DeSoto Friday night at 7:30.

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