From his debut in 1959 at the tender age of 14 as a starting halfback for legendary Coach Ray Riddick through a Hall of Fame coaching career and concluding with his tenure as Lowell High School Athletic Director from 1996 until 2003, Walter played a significant role in the athletic history of Lowell High School spanning almost half a century.
As a 3-year starter (1959–61) for Hall of Fame Coach Riddick, Walter was one of the mainstays for the Red and Gray during that period. Walter completed his grid career for Lowell High School with an outstanding senior year (1961). He played an instrumental role in the Red and Gray’s undefeated (8–0–1) season. Walter was the team’s leading scorer with seven touchdowns and four conversions. He was named MVP of the annual battle against archrival Keith Academy and later scored all three touchdowns in 20–0 victory over Lynn Public. Walter won MVP honors in the annual Greater Lowell versus Greater Lawrence All-Star Game. He was named as a Boston Globe All-Scholastic at season’s end.
As a member of Hall of Fame Coach Mike Haggerty’s Indoor Track team (1959–62), Walter was a solid sprinter, running the 50 and 300-yard dashes and the relay. He was undefeated in the 50 in the North Shore League and ran in the State Championship meet at the Boston Garden. Walter was also a stellar and versatile performer for Hall of Fame Coach Stan Stoklosa’s Baseball team, starting in left field as a sophomore and junior and then as catcher and team Captain in his senior year (1962). At the conclusion of his senior season, Walter was named the winner of the Jade Award, presented annually to the Baseball team’s Most Valuable Player.
After earning All New England Prep School Football honors at Maine Central institute (1962), Walter matriculated at the University of Maine, where he continued his athletic excellence as a member of the Black Bear’s football and track teams. Walter played varsity football as an offensive halfback and defensive cornerback for three years (1964–66). During his junior season (1965), Walter played an integral role as UMaine won both the Yankee Conference Championship and Lambert Cup, presented annually to the top collegiate football team in the East. UMaine competed in the Tangerine Bowl against East Carolina at the conclusion of the season.
At the conclusion of his competitive days, Walter embarked on a successful coaching career, eventually joining the staff at Lowell High School under Coach Riddick (1970–75). After Coach Riddick’s untimely death, Walter assumed Head Football Coach position at Lowell High. Over the next 13 years (1976–1988), Walter did his mentor proud, as his teams compiled an exceptional overall record of 73–49–6.
Walter’s 1984 team went undefeated (9–0–1) and his 1986 squad claimed the MVC Championship. Walter was named the Boston Globe’s Coach of the Year and he also received the Association of New England Football officials Coach of the Year Award, both in 1986. He was honored by induction into the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1999. He coached numerous gridders who developed into standout collegiate stars and one, Blake Galvin, who played in the National Football league for several years.
After serving as an important assistant coach for the LHS Girls Track team in the early 1980’s, Walter became the Head Coach of the Boys Indoor Track team in 1988. Under his tutelage, the Red and Gray quickly developed into one of the premier programs in the MVC, challenging for the league title on a yearly basis. His teams were MVC Champions in 1991 and Walter gained Lowell Sun Coach of the Year honors in both 1991 and 1996.
Walter reached the pinnacle of his career when he was appointed Lowell High School Athletic Director in 1996. From then until his retirement in 2003, he guided the entire Lowell High School Athletic program successfully through a challenging period of expansion and change, including overseeing the renovation of the Cawley Stadium complex into one of the finest high school facilities in New England.
Walter joins his brother Brent Nelson in the Lowell High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Graduation/Class Year: 1962
LHS Sports Played: Basketball, Football, Tract and/or Cross Country
LHS Sports Coached: Football, LHS Girls Track team
LHS Teacher or Admin: LHS Athletic Director
LHS Sport Captain: Yes
College: University of Maine
Other Halls of Fame:
Other: LHS Athletic Hall of Fame: Founding member, Selection committee