She cited physical reasons for this departure after undergoing hip replacement surgery last Thursday and said the pain she had been dealing with the past couple of years took a toll.

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Joyce Walker has resigned as head girls basketball coach at Garfield High School, but plans to continue working with players in both of the Bulldogs’ girls and boys programs in some capacity.

“I’m going to be a Bulldog forever,” said Walker, a 1980 Garfield graduate who led the girls team to a state title as a player her senior year and as head coach in 2005.

She cited physical reasons for this departure after undergoing hip replacement surgery last Thursday and said the pain she had been dealing with the past couple of years took a toll.

“The constant pain made it difficult to bring my best,” Walker said. “It was time to pass the baton on to someone else. It wasn’t fair to my girls nor myself….I just need to get out of the way. I couldn’t give them what I knew I could. It was the right thing to do.”

Walker, who had knee replacement surgery a year-and-a-half ago, was in her second stint as Garfield head coach, this time for three seasons. She previously coached from 2000-01 through 2006-07, walking away following a shocking relapse into drug and alcohol abuse after nearly 17 years of sobriety.

She got clean and sober again in May of 2008 and was rehired at Garfield in the spring of 2013 after volunteering time with the girls and boys programs for three years.

Walker is one of the most storied basketball players in state history and was part of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2004. After averaging better than 35 points per game as a senior, she became a two-time All-American at Louisiana State and was an alternate on the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team. She played professionally overseas before becoming one of the first women to join the Harlem Globetrotters.

“I call her Legend because she’s truly that,” said Garfield athletic director Ed Haskins, also the head boys basketball coach. “She’s a legend in every sense of the word when it comes to Garfield basketball, and arguably the best player to ever play here, male or female.”

Both Haskins and Garfield principal Ted Howard stressed that Walker will continue to be part of the basketball programs in some capacity, although all parties are still working out the details.

Howard listed a variety of options in an e-mail correspondence, including trainer, shooting coach, mentor for coaching, and scout — and also said Walker could possibly coach fall-league teams.

“These are the ideas that are being talked about but we are waiting until we see how she heals,” Howard wrote. “I want to know her capacity. We also have to see what our needs are.”