The Times West Virginian

Prep Sports

November 22, 2013

Talley tells students, ‘You are important’: PHOTOS

PLEASANT VALLEY — Basketball great Archie Talley told the students of East Fairmont High School that they are important and valuable Thursday morning in a special assembly in the school’s gym.

“I want to remind them of their value,” Talley, whose motivational speaking skills came long before it turned into a career, said. “All of this other stuff, the bullying, all the problems come from kids not understanding what makes them valuable, what makes them important.”

Talley, a former high-scoring, long-shooting Salem College and professional player turned motivational speaker, spent the better part of an hour talking to students about real-life issues and filling their minds with knowledge and their faces with smiles.

While the message for the day was helping students to understand their own worth, Talley also wanted to make the students smile and wanted to brighten their day just a little bit before getting into the seriousness of the talk.

“I could’ve come in with a suit and tie on and lectured to you for 15, 20 minutes, but I didn’t,” Talley said to the students during the assembly. “I put this music on and made you smile.”

The motivational speaker was referring to the whimsical music he played in the background while he pulled students down from the gym bleachers and showed off his basketball tricks. Among those tricks were spinning a basketball on top of a paper cup on top of a students’ head, brushing his teeth while spinning the ball on his finger and even spinning the ball on top of an umbrella while a student held it.

“My talk had nothing to do with athletics,” Talley said, smiling. “I just do that to get their attention.”

While these tricks were very entertaining and kept the entire student body of East Fairmont’s attention, Talley’s real talent came through his words.

“I call it making them rich,” Talley said, pointing to a poster with the words “Want to be rich?” printed on the top. “They have health, education, their family, a higher power. All of those kinds of things.”

When addressing the students, Talley said that they only need four things to be successful: Confidence, dedication, hard work and sacrifice.

“I’m a firm advocate of education,” he said. “If there’s anything you want in life, you can get it through education. We all are going to value our teachers when we’re in our 40s, but I want them to value them now.”

During his talk, Talley mentioned that same sentiment to the kids which led to an unprompted ovation of claps from the student body towards to their teachers, bringing a smile to Talley’s face.

After talking about making healthy life decisions, such as staying away from smoking and drinking, Talley closed the morning by talking about bullying, an ongoing battle in today’s schools.

His method, a seemingly rather simple one, was one that he tried to drive home with an exclamation point.

“You may not like a person, but I guarantee you can find something to respect about them,” Talley said emphatically to the crowd of students.

Talley received an outstanding ovation from the students and stayed for more than an hour after he was done speaking to sign autographs and take photos with the students. He didn’t let a single student walk away without asking them what they got out of the day’s message.

“Anyone who cares about young people, I care about,” Talley said.

After autographs and photos, the basketball legend headed off to East Fairmont Junior High School before capping his night off by meeting with the East Fairmont girls’ basketball team, coached by James Beckman, who set up the assembly.

While Talley said his message differs between which kind of groups he talks to, he added that they all revolve around life.

“Some things are universal,” Talley said. “I want them to understand what a team means and how networking works. Once people know you, people can connect themselves with you.”

Talley added that no matter what, he just wants to make sure that kids, no matter their age or whether or not they’re affiliated with sports, understand that they hold a value and that society needs them.

One statement he made during his talk with the students drove home that point.

“It only takes one person to believe in you for you to achieve success.”

Email Matt Welch at or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

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