Dave Talbott, the Yale University Head Coach of thirty-eight years and 2006 US Squash President’s Cup honoree, and his wife of forty years, Ann, died within two days of each other. Ann died after a courageous battle with Alzheimer’s Sunday, September 17. Dave died following an apparent heart attack Tuesday, September 19. Both were seventy-one years old.
Talbott was the men’s squash coach at Yale for thirty-eight years, from the fall of 1983 until he retired in January 2021; he also was the women’s coach starting in 2004. His Eli squads captured six national championships (the women’s team in 2005, 2006 and 2011; the men in 1989, 1990 and 2016), eight Ivy League titles and more than five hundred dual match victories. In January 2012 his men’s team snapped Trinity’s epic 252-win streak. Under his guidance, Yalies won three national intercollegiate individual championships, and eight Yale pairs captured the national intercollegiate doubles title; ten players were honored with the senior sportsmanship award, and four times the Yale men’s team was honored for sportsmanship.
Talbott helped build the iconic fifteen-court Brady Center in Yale’s Payne Whitney Gymnasium and hosted more than a hundred tournaments there—probably the most of any tournament director in U.S. history. He was the chair of the men’s division of the CSA. He played a central role in starting and sustaining Squash Haven, the urban squash program based at Payne Whitney and worked there both as a volunteer and board member. Talbott was awarded the President’s Cup, US Squash’s highest award, in 2006 and inducted into the College Squash Association’s Hall of Fame in 2019.
Talbott grew up in Dayton, Ohio and played for Deerfield Academy for two years. The highlight was a dramatic 18-17 in the fifth victory over Exeter’s Dave Fish in 1969, giving Deerfield an upset 4-3 win. Turning pro at age eighteen, Talbott rose to No.12 on the North American men’s pro hardball tour. He was a key behind-the-scenes administrator, serving as secretary and tour coordinator. “Dave is an outgoing, likable pro whose strength lies in a strong, consistent backhand,” read his player profile in the 1982-83 tour program. “Additionally, he has the ability to execute change-up shots (especially from deep in the court) and to retrieve seemingly unreachable shots.”
After working as a teaching pro, including a five-year stint at the Detroit Athletic Club, Talbott came to New Haven. Loyalty from his Eli players punctuated his tenure. He had weekly matches with each player and was as much a friend and colleague as a coach. Despite his generational run at Yale—so long that he coached Ming Tsai, the celebrity chef, in his first season and Tsai’s son David in his last—Talbott was always approachable, avuncular and full of humor. Part of that stemmed from his wife Ann. A health-food store owner, Ann was a devoted member of the team. She attended practices, rode in the van to matches and gave incisive advice and counseling to players.