By Gianna Addario
---- — Swampscott senior Ara Talkov grew up in New York City, so her decision to attend Columbia University next fall is like going home.
Talkov, one of the Big Blue captains this year, has displayed her skills on the court for Swampscott for the past three seasons. Talkov was the team’s leading scorer last year, averaging 13.7 points per game, and helped guide Swampscott all the way to the Division 3 North semifinals against Pentucket.
Though she has another season left with the Big Blue under new head coach Abrom Roberts, the 6-foot power forward is thrilled about her choice to go to Columbia and play for the Lions.
“I verbally committed to Columbia in July after attending their camp for a second time,” said Talkov. “Columbia had always been my number one choice and was my ideal school from the beginning of the college process, but I wanted to keep my options open. I knew that I couldn’t turn down an offer to play Division 1 basketball at an Ivy League school with an amazing campus, coaches and future teammates.”
Of course, throughout the process academics were her first priority when looking at schools. Talkov holds a 3.9 GPA and strives for greatness both in the classroom and on the court.
“I’ve always wanted to play basketball in college, but academics had always been the most important thing to me when it came to picking a school,” explained Talkov. “I chose to aim high as a sophomore and entering my junior year, so I decided to get my eye on some other Ivy League, NESCAC and other highly acclaimed academic schools that just so happened to have good basketball programs.
“In June of 2011 I attended the Columbia Women’s Basketball Summer Elite Camp and even as one of the younger campers I stood out to the coaches. They had five spots to fill for my class of 2013 and continued to contact me after the camp — sending me letters, calling me, coming to AAU games, and also flying down to come to a high school game my junior season.”
Talkov showed interest in other schools such as Yale, Brown, Colgate, NYU, Bowdoin, Tufts and Bates, but in the end Columbia was her ultimate No. 1 choice.
“Columbia University’s campus is my ideal college, with a huge, beautiful, green campus that is surrounded by the greatest and most diverse city in the country,” added Talkov. “I was born in New York and lived the first few years of my life in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York, so the city has always been a place I wanted to end up in after graduation.”
On her first official visit to the college, Talkov stayed in the dorms and met with current players, got to know the team and watched a couple of the Lions’ practices.
Columbia has gone a combined 65-130 since head coach Paul Nixon took over the program in 2005 and got its first win of the season in mid November against Fairleigh Dickinson. The Lions are currently 1-5 with a game against Bryant this afternoon.
Swampscott graduated most of its starting lineup in June, but Talkov returns as the play maker and focal point of this year’s Big Blue squad.