How Talia Marini, 3-sport athlete and 4.0 student, still has time to do more


If you need a lesson in time management and work ethic, you might consider following Talia Marini’s lead.

She is a tri-sport athlete – excelling in football, basketball and lacrosse – and student body president at McQueen High School, where she maintains a 4.0 GPA.

And in her spare time, she helps care for her youngest sister, Ella, who suffers from a rare condition caused by inflammation of the spinal cord.

It all starts early each day, usually around 6 a.m., when the senior McQueen starts planning her schedule.

“I put reminders in my phone that tell me when to do things. Other than that, I hope I remember,” she told RGJ in a recent interview. “Every day is a new day, so every day I have to plan what I do.”

“A fine example”

Aaron Walton, head coach of the McQueen women’s basketball team, raves about Marini’s play on the court – and, perhaps more importantly, its impact.

“Talia is a great role model for other kids who are convinced they need to focus on a sport or who feel they don’t have time for sports and school,” Walton said. . “She does this with a busy family and social life.”

“Complete” might be quite the understatement.

Marini’s younger sister, Ella, was diagnosed with “transverse myelitis” as a baby and Talia was seven years old.

The condition not only caused Ella to be paralyzed from the neck down, but it required her to have a tracheostomy and be on a ventilator for four years.

These days, Talia takes Ella to her practices and games, as well as doctor’s appointments and physical therapy sessions.

“Each night we always have our little bonding moment and talk about our day, Talia said. “I help her with her homework, get her ready for bed, feed her. I just help with all of that.”

Her younger sister, Gigi, is a sophomore on the McQueen football and basketball teams.

Talia also manages to maintain a positive social life as well as spending time and dining with her family.

A balancing act

Of course, she is also very good at sports.

Marini, who is 5-foot-3, was the MVP for the McQueen soccer and basketball teams last season.

She plays goalie for the Lancers, who won the Northern 5A Regional last fall on shots against Galena.

To verify: McQueen daughters win North 5A football region in shootout against Galena

In basketball, she led the Lancers in scoring (282 points, 10.8 ppg), 3 points (40), assists (82), steals (65), and deflections (58).

She played 31 minutes per game after the McQueen point guard suffered a career-ending concussion in December. The Lancers lost to eventual champion Bishop Manogue in the basketball regional playoff semifinals in February.

Although she has to spend several hours a day at school and then more for practices and games, Talia has become very good at prioritizing tasks, said her father, Tony Marini.

“She makes sure she spends a good chunk of her time in school, a good chunk of her time in sports…and a little of her time in leadership,” he told the RGJ.

So far, Talia hasn’t signed up to play sports in college. She said she wanted to play football somewhere or join the Nevada women’s basketball team, adding that she planned to study engineering or accounting.

His father – well known in the northern Nevada community as an executive of The ROW in downtown Reno and a board member of the Reno Air Racing Association, in addition to formerly running Hot August Nights – added that she is a natural athlete with a phenomenal drive who loves to stay involved.

Related: The McQueen girls win in Reno for the first time in over 20 years and advance to the semifinals

“I push her pretty hard because I want to see her succeed and I know her level of ability,” Tony said.

He said if Talia goes out of state to play football, the family will try to take Ella to see her play, as well as keep in touch via FaceTime.

“They can keep each other on track,” Tony said. “They are each other’s security blankets.”

So… why a goalkeeper?

McQueen senior Cydonah Blackman has been playing football with Talia since they were young.

Blackman’s father, Anthony, was the coach and he wanted Talia to play the role of goalkeeper.

She loved it and never left the job.

Except once, although it didn’t go so well.

“We put her in the field one year against Hug and she had four wide-opening shots and missed all four,” Tony recalled. “We don’t let her live that day.”

In the regional football championship against Galena last fall, the match ended in a shootout – five penalty shootouts, with the team making the most the winner and the winner going to the state.

Talia said she had never been so scared.

“It was intense. It was so scary. I was freaking out. I didn’t show I was freaking out, but I was freaking out,” she said of the moment. “I was like, don’t talk to me. I left. I was trying to calm down.”

In addition to football and basketball, Talia is a team captain and plays midfielder on the McQueen lacrosse team, a high school club sport.

She said she used to look up to McQueen athletes when she was in middle school and she knows younger people look up to her now, so she tries to give a good example, which is simple as follows: homework is done right after school, and then she goes to practice or games.

Then she sleeps. Until 6 o’clock in the morning, that is to say the beginning of a new day.

Jim Krajewski covers high school and youth sports for the Reno Gazette Journal. Follow him on Twitter @RGJPreps. Support his work by subscribing to


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