The only East Central University head coach to win a national championship, Hank Walbrick, will be honored twice, Saturday, Oct. 5 during the Tigers homecoming game against Southern Nazarene. He will first be honored pre-game with the rest of the 1993 NAIA National Championship team and then again at halftime as the 2013 Milam Award winner.
The Milam Award is given out each year at homecoming to a former ECU football player who has distinguished himself in his chosen career. The award is named in honor of Joe Milam, who was a former educator and coach in the states of Oklahoma and Texas.
Walbrick was part of the ECU athletic department for over four decades, starting as a member of the football defensive unit in 1971. The Lawton, Okla., native split time between defensive back and linebacker between 1971 and 1974 and was the team co-captain in 1974.
After earning a degree in business education from ECU in 1974, Walbrick started his coaching career as a graduate assistant coach in 1975 and 1976, when he earned a master’s in secondary education. He then spent the next three seasons with the Lawton and Norman High School football programs before returning to the Tigers for the remained of his career.
In 1980, Walbrick returned to his alma mater to take over as defensive coordinator for 10 years under head coach Pat O’Neal. During his time as the head of the defense, he helped produce two All-Americans and five NFL training camp participants. One of his strongest success stories is Todd Graham, who is now the head coach at Arizona State. The All-American defensive back attended the St. Louis Cardinals’ NFL training camp in 1987.
After 10 years as the defensive coordinator, Walbrick was picked to move up to the role of head coach when O’Neal retired after the 1989 season. Walbrick spent nine seasons at the helm of the Tigers’ program, producing a 34-58-1 overall record and a 14-32 mark in the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference.
His best season was 1993, when he guided the team to a 10-3 overall mark and the 1993 NAIA National Championship. Walbrick was also responsible for helping the Tigers make the transition from NAIA to the NCAA DII level.
In his career as head coach, Walbrick produced 61 All-OIC selections and six All-Americans.
After the 1998 season, Walbrick made the move into athletic administration. He became ECU’s NCAA Compliance Coordinator and retired in 2006. Despite his retirement, Walbrick has remained a strong supporter of ECU athletics.
Walbrick meet his wife, Lafton, when the two were ECU students and had two children; Tisha Kay and Bo.