Dirk Walden is making his return to the bench. After serving one year as high school principal at Henryetta, Dirk Walden is heading to Red Oak to become the boys basketball coach.
“I feel honored to be coaching at Red Oak,” Walden told Skordle after confirming the move. “With their tradition, I just feel really lucky.”
Walden takes over for Trey Booth, who guided Red Oak to the Class B championship in March — the program’s second in three years and third overall title. The McAlester Newsreported in March that Booth would remain at Red Oak as the athletic director and baseball coach.
Now Walden will return to coaching after he ended his most recent stint at Preston to be an administrator briefly in Henryetta.
“It was a very tough decision, considering it meant moving,” Walden said. “But in the end, the opportunity for the whole family was what won it out for us. I have two sons — a sixth grader and a third grader — and a daughter that is turning 3, and we were wanting this kind of tradition for them, as well.”
Walden, 44, said he will be the high school principal, in addition to coaching the boys basketball team, which capped a 27-4 season with a 47-46 win over Earlsboro in overtime in the championship game.
“There’s very few shools in the state that have this kind of tradition — if any in all sports,” Walden said of Red Oak, located 44 miles east of McAlester and 28 miles west of Poteau in Latimer County. “So, that’s why I feel so honored and a sense of duty to hold that tradition high and keep it going.”
During his time at Preston, Walden led the Pirates to a state championship in 2009, and three times Preston finished as state runner-up. Before that, he guided Stringtown to the Class B title in 2007.
The time was from coaching “was good for me, because of the principal experience that I got,” said Walden, who owns a career record of 373-99. “But I really did miss the competition and the relationships you get to build as a coach.