Where Are You Now? Ted Talkington
Editors Note: Where Have You Gone is a ten-week series featuring notable local athletes of yesteryear. We take a look back at their playing days, as well as a glimpse of where they landed after their playing days ended.
Many great athletes and scholars have walked the halls of Magnolia High School in New Martinsville, WV., and went on to excel in athletics and academics. Enter Ted Talkington, (2004 Graduate), a standout basketball player for Coach Dave Tallman’s Blue Eagles who led the team to a Class AA State Championship in 2003. Ted started as a freshman making a big impact. He also competed and excelled on the football field as well. In the classroom, Talkington was a constant 4.0 student throughout his days at Magnolia.
Ted was truly unstoppable on the court and was enjoyable to watch. If the Blue Eagles needed a score his teammates knew they could count on him to get it done. He could score from anywhere on the floor with ease.
Talkington is the son of Percy and Debbie (Kacor) Talkington of New Martinsville, along with his two sisters (Rachel and Katy). His grandparents are lifelong residents of New Martinsville, Bill and Beulah Talkington, and Ted and Gretchen Kacor.
Ted Talkington was always driven to succeed. Possessor of a killer jump shot, he was a shooting guard at Magnolia High in New Martinsville, and a two-time Class AA All-State captain who scored 2,024 points. He was the first player to lead the state in scoring for two straight years, averaging 30.1 points as a senior and 29.5 as a junior.
He was a first-team all-state selection as both a junior and senior, and captained the team both seasons. He was also an all-OVAC and all-Valley performer, captaining the all-Valley team twice.
Ted scored 20 points in helping West Virginia rally for a 92-82 victory over Ohio in the Samuel A. Mumley OVAC All-Star Game in 2004.
During the 2003-04 campaign, Talkington established his career game high point total with 45. As a senior, he shot 82 percent from the foul line and connected on 64 treys. Talkington’s game wasn’t limited to scoring, however. He also averaged 5.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game.
Along with his basketball mastery, Talkington was a standout for the Blue Eagle football team. He was twice named All-OVAC. He was a first-team selection as a junior and honorable mention pick as a back as a senior.
After high school, Talkington turned down several smaller university collegiate offers. Anyone capable of leading the entire state in scoring during consecutive seasons in high school can indeed play, but the torturous question Talkington struggled with as a high school senior was, “Where?”
“I wasn’t recruited very heavily, despite those scoring titles,” the 6-foot-2, 200-pound guard admitted, “mostly because I was pretty much a ‘tweener.’ You know, I was a little too slow to play the point, and a little too small to play at the 2-guard spot, so it was difficult to get much attention at the Division I level. I had lots of interest from DII and DIII schools, especially from the West Virginia Conference, so it was tough.
“In the end,” he continued, “I figured I could always transfer down after a year or two if I still wanted to play, and I was focused on wanting the academics to fit (Talkington entered WVU as an engineering major), so in the end, I accepted WVU’s offer to walk on.”
After seeing no action in 2005, Talkington battled hard during practices while on the scout team to draw the attention of then-head coach John Beilein, but with little success. “Coach Beilein was a very intelligent coach, and very, very meticulous, plus he had a very small rotation,” he recalled.
“He wanted to work on very specific things, and the scout team was expected to mimic our upcoming opponents to a T. As a result, it didn’tmatter if you hit 10 3-pointers in a row in practice, because his focus was completely on the starters and key reserves, all of whom were really great players. I understood the situation, but it was still pretty tough.”
Still, it was hard to argue with the team’s success, as the 22-11 Mountaineers made a Sweet 16 run in the NCAA tournament before falling to Texas, 74-71. However, just six games and 17 minutes played gave Talkington pause to consider whether continuing was worth it. Academically, he’d switched from engineering to chemistry, but excelled well enough to begin a three-year streak as a Big East Conference Academic All-Star Team member.
In the end, based on the close relationships he’d developed with his teammates and with Mountaineers Nation, he decided to stick it out.
“I just couldn’t leave the guys. We were uniquely close-knit, good friends on and off the court,” he explained. “I knew I was contributing to our success, even though I wasn’t on the floor at game time too often. And then, when I did get in, the fans would go nuts with their support, which was awesome. I knew it was probably because I was the short white kid from West Virginia, but it was still cool to get cheered.”
During his junior season, in 2007, Talkington had his most exciting moment on the court, against No. 2-ranked UCLA, at home. With WVU up big as halftime approached, guard Alex Ruoff committed his third foul, and suddenly Talkington was thrown into the limelight. He spotted up for a long 3, hit it, then followed with another jumper as the crowd nearly blew the roof off the Coliseum. After the upset victory, Talkington was the media darling of the moment, and he relished every question.
“It was my moment in the sun,” he beamed, “and it really sort of justified all that I had done in the past. I got my chance, and I made the best of it on a “pretty big” stage. It made it all worthwhile.”
Bob Huggins made his triumphant return to the WVU sidelines, in 2008. Talkington’s playing time rose a bit, and he felt that he might have contributed even more had Huggins been his coach from the beginning.
“I think I fit the system a little better,” he mused, “plus, he really valued guys who would play hard and who could shoot. I was definitely able to do both of those things pretty well, and I really enjoyed playing for him.”
The highlight of Talkington’s final season, beyond earning a one-semester athletic scholarship, was being named the Big East Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, an honor that came as a complete shock.
“I thought you had to play a lot more to be considered, so when I heard I was being nominated, I figured I didn’t have a shot,” he admitted. “I couldn’t believe it when I won. You know, changing to chemistry was a great move for me, because it really gave me a lot of options for different directions to go, and the chemistry department always treated me well, never as a jock who wanted special favors. They cared about me and seemed to appreciate the difficulty of what I was doing.
“Funny story about receiving the award,” he laughed. “It was presented at the Big East tournament banquet in New York City, a big deal, and I had to give a speech. When I was up there, nervous as all get-out, I couldn’t seem to say ‘West Virginia University’ right, so I finally gave up after about four tries and used ‘WVU’ instead. When I finished, I sat down next to Huggins, who was just staring at me. ‘Seriously?’ he said, ‘The academic player of the year, and you can’t even say West Virginia University? It was vintage Huggins sarcasm, but I deserved every bit of it.”
Talkington opted to forgo his final year of eligibility after he was accepted to WVU’s School of Medicine, in 2008.
“I have zero regrets. None,” he insisted, considering his college basketball choice. “I know I could’ve been a big fish in a small pond at a smaller school, but where would I have ended up academically? At WVU, I learned how to deal with high-pressure situations, how teamwork and hard work can make a real difference, and – at least one time – I found that I could get it done at the high levels. I might not have shown up real big on the scoresheet or the career record books, but I think I had an impact, and those cheers I heard early on went from a place of pity to a place of respect. I think I earned that.”
Ted and his wife Katie Talkington (formerly Katie Meal) from Wheeling, WV., and daughter Ivy (age 3) currently reside in St Louis Park, Minnesota (inner suburb of Minneapolis). The pride for their daughter Ivy can be heard in Ted’s voice when he speaks of her
Talkington met his wife Katie (from Wheeling, WV.) when he was living and working in Cincinnati, OH. After living there from 2012 to 2016 they moved to Minnesota in the fall of 2016 when Katie was offered a job opportunity.
Ted worked as a Logistics Account Executive for Total Quality Logistics and with Stand Energy Corporation as a Natural Gas Analyst while in Cincinnati.
He is now employed by Storage and Real Estate Lead for Cargill Inc. and his wife Katie is a Global Supply Planning Manager for Target Corporation in MN.
During a phone conversation with Ted, he praised his father, for being a good role model, including working hard, spending all his extra hours at the gym, and teaching him the importance of attention to detail. He credits his father for the value of competitiveness. Ted also truly admires his mom, and credits her for giving so much of herself, including the times on weekends driving far distances in support of his love of basketball.
Though he lives in Minnesota, like most people raised in the local area he still calls New Martinsville home. “It’s the place I was raised, it’s where my family lives, and many of my childhood friends remain. I have fond memories of growing up in Wetzel County and spending my summers hanging out with friends. Playing sports and getting a good high school education was all part of what I am today.”
Talkington, spoke highly of his teachers and coaches at Magnolia and said without their dedication and guidance his experience would have been much different. He said he saw early on that they believed in him and he wanted to make a difference and set an example for younger kids to follow. He said that is one trait he learned from his parents and grandparents. “To be the best you can be”.