In his youth, and in University, Gary had been a high-level Soccer Player, Olympic Weightlifter and Wrestler. Later, he coached several Provincial and High School athletes to great success in all three of these sports. Gary is a serious and focused, “all in” type of guy. He does not do anything halfway. I have known Gary for many years as we attended numerous karate clinics and camps together. He and his wife Eileen have operated the Valley Karate Club in Annapolis Royal for approximately 30 years, and he has attained the rank of San-Dan in Chito-Ryu. However, it wasn`t until a dozen years ago (when I helped convince him to become an Official) that I really got to know him on a more personal level.
He quickly became a skilled Official within the province, and he went on to officiate at Nationals, and at the Pan-American level, becoming the 4th Nova Scotian ever to hold a license at that level. Fortunately for us, during this time, he also became President of Karate Nova Scotia. This was a role to which he brought all his tenacity and drive, laying the groundwork, and setting up the previous Nova Scotia Karate Association to become Karate Nova Scotia, ready for future success.
In addition, Gary is the First Nationally Certified Master Coach Developer (MCD) for Karate Canada (through the Coaching Association of Canada NCCP Program) - Teaching, Evaluating, and Certifying Coaches at the Local and National Levels.
During his time at the National Championships, with his big smile, quick wit, and positive attitude, he very quickly made friends from coast to coast across Canada. It was not long before he would find himself a seat on the Karate Canada Board of Directors. He has since helped to bring about many positive changes in that organization as well.
Gary is also an accomplished musician having played in a local band for over 40 years. He soon discovered that Karate Canada was full of “At Home Musicians”. Within a couple of years, Gary put together the “Karate Canada East Coast Kitchen Party”. This event quickly became one of the favourites at the National Championships, and it helped bring members of the organization together like never before. In recent years Karate Canada has allowed Gary Walsh to walk away. It is their mistake. What Gary Walsh brought to their group and indeed all of Karate Canada, is something that cannot easily be replaced.
During his 7 years as President of KNS, Gary worked diligently to keep Karate NS informed and well represented on the National level. His organizational skills are second to none. His many accomplishments are far too many to list here. In my opinion, his 2 most impactful achievements were: 1 - bringing world renowned coach Antonio Seba to NS for seminars, which he did on at least 2 occasions. And 2 - He formed strong ties with Sport NS., which allowed us to access funding like we never had before. Much of the success we enjoy today is a direct result of his efforts. It is incumbent upon all of us to not let his tremendous work be for naught. In addition, Gary began updating the KNS Governance Policies, and he also received approval from Sport NS for two paid positions for our organization. These are two major KNS programs that began with Gary - and carried forward to the next Executive for completion and implementation.
His crowning achievement, so to speak, was when KNS hosted the 2018 National Championships right here in Halifax, at the Canada Games Center. When the Championships came to a close, they were declared the largest National Championships ever held and, financially, it was the most successful ever. Every detail was looked after and, in the end, he made us all very proud!
Of course, Gary would never accept full credit for his many accomplishments. He would always acknowledge those around him, and rightly so, who assisted in making things happen. However, there is no debate as to who the catalyst was. Gary always had a saying that he followed as he fulfilled his mandates, and it went like this, “Take Care of Those Who Take Care of Your Sport”. I wish the people in leadership positions today and in the future would take this saying to heart. I think it would serve them very well.
Gary Walsh is truly an exceptional individual, and I am proud to be counted among his many, many friends. Karate, and indeed the world, needs more people like my friend, Gary Walsh. He continues to be an inspiration.