Recently appointed San Antonio City Manager Erik Walsh ‘91, ‘94 has fond memories of his time as a Trinitonian and Tiger student-athlete.
The former offensive lineman and track & field competitor oversees the city's 13,000 employees from his office, which proudly displays a Tiger football helmet to help him remember his alma mater.
Walsh said participating in football at Trinity set the groundwork for his nearly 25 years with the City of San Antonio. He told a story to city executives several years ago about the value of teamwork and related it to his experiences as a Tiger offensive guard.
“The tackle, Martin Kellner [‘94], needed help on pass blocking,” Walsh said. “He knew that I knew that, and it made us a better twosome. The center, Joe Terry [‘95], would never call the huddle, and I always jumped off side. Both of those guys were reinforcing what the count was. We all had our weaknesses, but we helped each other. In my mind, that has always framed the epitome of teamwork.”
Before his time at Trinity, Walsh went to high school at San Antonio’s Central Catholic High School, where he was an offensive tackle. He also played in the Kiwanis All-Star Football Game, held on Trinity’s campus, and was visited by the late Tiger football coaches Gene Norris and Jim Nelson.
Walsh initially started college at Texas A&M University, but he did not play on the Aggies football team. He felt College Station was just not the place for him, so Walsh contacted the Trinity coaches.
Norris ended up coaching Walsh in the 1989 season, and former Trinity head coach, Steve Mohr, mentored the future city manager during the 1990 and 1991 seasons. Walsh received All-Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Honorable Mention Team accolades after the 1991 campaign.
“Erik was a fiery leader on our team,” Mohr said. “He was a dedicated and smart leader who prepared extremely well every week. Erik was a player who had some valuable leadership skills, which he has demonstrated throughout his career in city government.”
Walsh also competed in the shot put and discus in track & field. His good friend and Tiger teammate, Brad Robinson ‘92, was also an offensive lineman and track & field competitor and had this to say about the current City Manager.
“Erik was a very physical player and had a great attitude,” said Robinson, who now coaches football and track & field at San Antonio’s Churchill High School. “Erik seemed like he was having fun playing football, especially on game days. That attitude helped out the young guys who might have been nervous playing college football for the first time. There was never a doubt in my mind Erik would be successful. Our city is lucky to have him.”
Walsh earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Trinity in 1991, and he later received a Master of Science in urban administration from the University in 1994. Shortly after obtaining his master’s, Walsh became a budget & management analyst for the City of San Antonio and has worked for his hometown government ever since.
“The basic liberal arts education was the best foundation I could ask for,” Walsh said. “It set me up, just like it sets up every other graduate, for that next step in life. Anyone who goes to that school enjoys that same foundation.”
Professionally, Walsh has gone on to use his degrees from Trinity as a special projects manager and a 10-year tenure as assistant city manager. Walsh was named deputy city manager in 2011, and City Council appointed him city manager on January 31, 2019, and has held his current position since March 1.
“This is a career achievement in my profession,” Walsh said. “It’s a double blessing, because you don’t often get to be a city manager in your hometown. This is an exciting time to be involved in city government. Every day, we have 66 new residents of San Antonio, and it will continue to grow. We are trying to be thoughtful about how we grow inside the city and how we redevelop neighborhoods without putting people in a position where they feel like they are getting squeezed out of their homes.”
Walsh and his wife Sandra are the parents of two children. He has donated his time as a junior high school football coach and Catholic Youth Organization basketball coach, among other activities. In his spare time, he enjoys running and completed the full Humana San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in December 2018.