Former UW Husky, WNBA player named Renton schools athletic director

Federal Way High basketball alum Talia Walton aims to rally the community around sports.

Talia Walton in high school playing for Federal Way in the state championships. File photo

Talia Walton in high school playing for Federal Way in the state championships. File photo

Former University of Washington basketball star and WNBA player Talia Walton has recently been appointed as the Renton School District’s athletic director.

The former Federal Way High School basketball star said she is very thankful to be in her new position — a position that “not a lot of women of color get to have.”

Just about seven weeks into her new job, Walton is taking over athletics at Renton schools during an interesting time of transition: Renton schools recently joined the Kingco Athletic Conference, which Walton said means high-level competition, and schools and scholastic sports are transitioning back to more normal seasons.

“Hopefully [student athletes] will be able to find some normality through competition,” she said.

Walton’s priority during the transition will be safety first — safety that she said begins top-down from the administrators, to the coaches, to the student athletes.

Walton understands the importance of sports in the lives of students. She benefited and grew personally from her own relationship with sports.

“They played a pivotal role in my own development as a person and as a leader,” said Walton who played at UW from 2011 to 2016 and made the All-Pac-12 first team as a senior.

She also understands their importance to the community. She said the King County region and cities like Renton have great sports communities and stadiums like Renton Memorial Stadium, which represent a central fixture of their community.

Walton said she plans to lead youth sports and development by her motto “create, engage and empower.” That means creating valuable opportunities and memories for student athletes, getting them engaged with their coaches, teammates, teachers and community, and empowering them with transferable skills and academic confidence.

“I will do my part from this position to give these kids the best memories possible,” Walton said of her commitment.

Walton recognized that these are often impressionable years for developing students and an important time to learn transferable skills such as how to win and lose.

She said she aims to rally the community around these student athletes, bringing visibility to their hard work and accomplishments as well as giving them the support to broaden their horizons and try new things. Her goal is to make students feel “showered with love” from their community.

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