Written by Toan Ngo
Tarik Walker, a forward with the original Harrisburg franchise in the mid-1990s, became the Heat's new coach in June 2014.
Walker, 43, succeeded Richard Chinapoo, the indoor soccer icon and Hall of Famer who coached the Heat in the first two seasons of the franchise’s return to the indoor game in 2012. Chinapoo resigned after the 2013-14 season to join his family in Miami and to be closer to his native Trinidad & Tobago.
Walker inherited a team that went 10-22 in its first two seasons in the Professional Arena Soccer League, which recently added six teams from the dissolved Major Indoor Soccer League to form the new 24-team Major Arena Soccer League.
Walker, born and raised in Washington, D.C. had a long and distinguished career playing the indoor game, starting during the 1993-94 season with the old Baltimore Spirit and being named the National Professional Soccer League’s rookie of the year.
Walker joined the original Heat midway through the 1994-95 season, when he was traded from Baltimore to Harrisburg along with midfielder Steve Boardman for All-Star midfielder Franklin McIntosh.
Walker eventually returned to Baltimore, where he played for 10 seasons and was a two-time All-Star before retiring after the 2006-07 season. During his time there, Walker helped Baltimore win MISL championships in 2003, 2004 and 2006.
He retired second on Baltimore’s all-time scoring list with 582 points, as well as No. 2 in total goals, two-point goals and game-winning goals. He was inducted into the Blast’s Hall of Fame during the 2012-13 season.
Walker also played professionally indoors with Milwaukee, where he helped the Wave win the NPSL title in 1998, as well as with Las Vegas and Washington.
He lives in Baltimore with his wife, Rochelle, and sons, Sammie and Jaxon.
Born in Italy, raised in Canada, and now a United States citizen, DiFlorio began his professional soccer career in the original Major Indoor Soccer League, joining the Cleveland Force for the 1984-88 seasons.
He joined the Dallas Sidekicks of the MISL in 1988-89 before finishing the season with the Dayton Dynamo of the American Indoor Soccer Association.
Over the next two seasons, the midfielder played for the Canton Invaders of the National Professional Soccer League and finished the 1989-90 season as the league's leading scorer. He then returned to Cleveland in 1991-92 as a member of the Cleveland Crunch of the MISL. He returned to the Invaders for the 1992-94 seasons and completed the 1992-93 season as the league's third-leading scorer and as the league’s fifth-leading scorer in 1993-94.
In 1994, DiFlorio played a summer season of outdoor soccer for the Toronto Rockets in the American Professional Soccer League. He returned to the indoor game, playing for the Buffalo Blizzard from 1994-97, for the Cincinnati Silverbacks from 1997-98 and then with the original from 1998-2001.
DiFlorio began the 2001-02 season with the Baltimore Blast, but finished his playing career with the Heat. He was the NPSL's third all-time leading scorer with 1,594 points and second all-time goal scorer with 610, as well as being an eight-time NPSL All-Star and four-time All-NPSL selection. He also was named the 2000-01 NPSL Most Valuable Player. DiFlorio had one cap for the Canadian national soccer team, which came in 1988 on July 15 in a friendly against Poland played in Toronto.
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Affectionately known as “Heavy,” Butala has been a staple of Central Pennsylvania professional soccer for close to three decades.
He was the equipment manager for the Hershey Impact from 1988-91. Butala was the only equipment manager in the history of the original Harrisburg Heat and the equipment manager of the Harrisburg City Islanders until 2012. When he is not overseeing the equipment needs of the Heat, Mike is an instructor for Harrisburg Area Community College’s Workforce Development Department.
Butala and his wife Patty, who also is the Heat's ticket manager, live in Camp Hill with their granddaughter, Abby, who is the Heat's assistant equipment manager.