Riverside Preparatory Academy

Football Legend Herschel Walker Brings Encouragement to Riverside Academy

Valarie M. Reeves

Herschel Walker is best known for his athletic abilities – helping the University of Georgia Bulldogs earn the 1980 National Championship, winning the 1982 Heisman Trophy, and continuing his career in pro football as a running back until 1997.

Many do not know that Walker wanted to serve in the military. Although he chose a different path in life, his love for the military continues as he often travels to speak at military bases worldwide. This week, Walker visited Riverside Military Academy (RMA) and brought words of encouragement to the Corps of Cadets.

Walker began his address to the cadets by speaking about overcoming adversity from childhood. “Sometimes, you have to step up to the plate. You’ve got to decide at times in your life whether you want to give up or get up.”

He shared his desire as a high school student to be a marine. He said, “I wanted to be a marine. I thought I was cut out to be a marine.” He could not decide whether to pursue that dream or accept the offer to play football at the University of Georgia (UGA), so he flipped a coin, and football won.

Walker also shared about the adversity he met at UGA, and said, “I remember a lot of the players and a lot of the people saying, ‘Oh, he’s not ready. He’s not this. He’s not that.’” He said, “They don’t know what you can do. No one knows what you can do. Only you know what you can do.”

Walker continued, “To be that leader, you’ve got to step out and do unusual things. You’ve got to take on chances that some people don’t want to take on.”

Approximately one hundred of RMA’s Cadet Command – cadets who serve in leadership positions – chose to attend this special event along with several faculty, staff, and administrators. Walker later toured Riverside Academy to learn about its history and mission and listened to cadets and instructors share how Riverside develops leaders and impacts students. His full speech is available below:


Riverside Military Academy, established in 1907, is the nation's premier all-boys college preparatory school. Riverside Military Academy serves boys in grades 6-12 and is in Gainesville, GA. The distinctive military structure, academic, and athletic programs, and leadership and character development programs enhance the overall educational experience while producing young men of character, sound judgment, and commitment.