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Local Athletes who’ve made it to the TOP of their Game

Will Smith

Marvin Duke

Calvin Johnson, Jr.

Calvin Johnson, Jr.

Wil Lutz

Kelley O'Hara

Brooke Hendrix

Audrey Dempsey


Audrey Dempsey

A promising star on the Taekwondo scene is ten-year-old Audrey Dempsey of Peachtree City who holds a 1st Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. Dempsey, competing in the 10-year-old girl division, attended the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Jr. Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa last summer. There, she competed in six events and won six Gold Medals for Weapon Sparring, Speed Board Breaking Hand and Foot, Human Hold, Power Board Breaking Hand and Foot and Speed Breaking Hand Machine Feed.  

Audrey has been training in Taekwondo for several years earning her black belt in 2022. That same year she was Georgia State Champ for Traditional Sparring and Weapon Sparring in the American Taekwondo Association and won several South Carolina and Georgia District Championships last year. Dempsey also participated in the AAU National Championship winning two gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

Audrey attends private lessons to prepare for tournaments with her coach, 4th Degree Black Belt Michael Stief. Training with Stief has led Audrey to helping teach Taekwondo classes and to encourage other kids to compete while they do their martial arts training. 

More Exceptional Athletes from
the Area

There are so many great athletes from our area that we wanted to include in the article but couldn’t. Here are just a few more that we found in our research that have reached the highest level in their sports :

Athlete  League  School

Alec Ogletree • NFL • Newnan HS

Caleb Landgrebe • Cycling• PTC

Chris Hanson • NFL • East Coweta HS

Jeff Sheppard • NBA • McIntosh HS

Drew Hill • NFL • Newnan HS

Mattline Render • Track • Newnan HS

Cindy Schreyer • LPGA • Fayette HS

Warren Newsome • MLB • Newnan HS

Cecil Travis • MLB • Fayetteville HS

Dawn Davenport • ESPN • Starr’s Mill HS

Jerome Walton • MLB • Newnan HS

Karsten Bailey • NFL • East Coweta HS

Chris Young • NFL • East Coweta HS

Robyn Byrd Goad • Weightlifting • Newnan

Reed Sorenson • NASCAR • PTC

Cam Bedrosian • MLB • East Coweta HS

Tray Matthews • NFL • Newnan HS

Kelley Lynch • NCAA • East Coweta HS

Brandon Facyson • NFL • Northgate HS

Jean Reynolds • LPGA • Newnan HS

Brad Emaus • MLB • East Coweta HS

Tim Van Egmond • MLB • East Coweta HS

Michael Cheever • NFL • Newnan HS

John Keith • NFL • East Coweta HS

Natalie Pluskota • Tennis • Newnan HS

J.R. Reed • NFL • Sandy Creek HS

Josh Harvey-Clemons • NFL • Sandy Creek

Savannah Jordan • Soccer • Whitewater HS

Ufomba Kamalu • NFL • Starr’s Mill HS

Christian Taylor • Triple Jump • Sandy Creek

Jabari Smith, Jr.• NBA • Sandy Creek HS

Niko Goodrum • MLB • Fayette HS

Sam Martin • NFL • Starrs Mill HS

Brian Branch • NFL • Sandy Creek HS

Matt Daniels • NFL • Fayette HS

Kyle Dugger • NFL • Whitewater HS

Mike Hilton • NFL • Sandy Creek HS

Dwight Smith Jr • MLB • McIntosh HS

Nancy & Julie Augustyniak • Pro Soccer • McIntosh HS Soccer

Coweta and Fayette Counties have proven to be fertile ground for raising high level athletes in mainstream sports like football, baseball and basketball. But stars from many other sports like soccer, softball, golf, and even auto racing have come from our region.

  Athletics is a huge aspect of establishing the culture of a school and the community it represents, says Blake Bass, assistant head of school at Trinity Christian School in Sharpsburg. “If I had to describe the culture of the athletic programs in the Coweta and Fayette school systems in one word that word would be ‘Excellence.’”

  Bass spent more than 30 years as a coach and administrator in Coweta County and has witnessed a lot of change. He said that athletics is the universal measure that all schools have in common and the programs that have been developed give student athletes a great opportunity for find success and develop for going to the “next level.”

  "Coweta and Fayette counties have great athletic facilities, not just at the school level but at the respective recreation venues,” continued Bass. “Unlike when I coached, where football coaches had to coach two or three sports, today successful coaches are being recruited and hired to coach specific sports and that makes a huge difference in developing athletes.”

  Here are just a handful of examples of players who cut their teeth at the local level and made it to the highest level of competition in the country and the world.

Calvin Johnson – Football

  The fact that Calvin Johnson Jr. would eventually become perhaps the best wide receiver in the history of the NFL was not at the center of the conversation back in 2003 when he was a standout coming out of Sandy Creek High School in Tyrone. His mother, Arica, had other plans for her son. Academics were front and center for Mrs. Johnson, who holds a Doctor of Education. In fact, Arica and Calvin, Sr. forbid him playing in sports if he didn’t earn A’s and B’s in school.

  Following a stellar career at Sandy Creek High School, Johnson chose to play at Georgia Tech. Also a standout baseball player, he was set to play both sports for the Yellowjackets, but again, Mom stepped in and refused to allow her son to play both sports after determining that the year-round athletic schedule would be too demanding.

  At Georgia Tech he won numerous awards including ACC Rookie of the Year; All-American honors; the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver; and ACC Player of the Year.

  The Detroit Lions selected Johnson second overall in the 2007 NFL Draft and he went on to play for nine seasons in Detroit. Nicknamed “Megatron” after the Transformers character of the same name. He was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2018 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021.

Will Smith - Baseball

  When the Texas Rangers clinched the World Series championship over the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2023, Coweta County native Will Smith made Major League history as a member of the team.

  The former Northgate High standout became the first player to win three consecutive championship rings with three different team in three years. Smith signed with his hometown Atlanta Braves in 2019 and sealed the Braves win over the Houston Astros in game six of the 2021 World Series. Following that season, Smith was traded to the Astros who then went on to win the 2022 title.

  Smith had a record of 39-4 during his high school career at Northgate. After one season at Gulf Coast Community College, he was drafted by the Los Angles Angels and eventually played for the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants before signing with Atlanta.

Kelley O’Hara - Soccer

  In the world of women’s soccer, few players have left as indelible a mark as Kelley O’Hara. Known for her exceptional skills, versatility, and leadership both on and off the field, O’Hara has become a prominent figure in the sport.

  Kelley O’Hara was born in Fayetteville and played local youth soccer with the Peachtree City Lazers and AFC Lightning before playing for the U.S. U-16s in 2004 and then joining the U-17 youth women’s national team of that same year.

  O’Hara graduated from Starr’s Mill High School in Fayette County where she played four years on the varsity team. O’Hara helped lead the Panthers to the 5A state title in 2006. During her high school career she earned multiple honors including Parade All-American, All-County and All-State all four years, Atlanta Journal- Constitution (AJC) Player of the Year, and Gatorade Georgia State Player of the Year.

  O’Hara continued to shine at the collegiate level playing for Stanford University. In 2009, O’Hara played a pivotal role in leading Stanford to the NCAA Championship, while earning recognition as the Hermann Trophy winner—the most prestigious individual award in college soccer.

  Kelley O’Hara’s talent did not go unnoticed, and she soon found herself representing the United States on the international stage. Making her debut for the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2010, O’Hara quickly became an integral part of the squad. As a part of the USWNT, she won two World Cups, one gold medal in the Olympics, and five She Believes Cup titles.

  In addition to her success with the national team, O’Hara has competed at the highest level in professional soccer winning championships with Washington Spirit FC and Gotham FC.

Marvin Duke - Baseball

  Born in Brooks, Ga. In 1908, “The Duke” as he was called by his teammates, grew up in Senoia. In college he played for Georgia Tech. After that he was signed by the Atlanta Crackers who later sold his contract to the New York Yankees.

  From 1929-39 he played in the International League, with most of those being with the Newark Bears, the Triple-A affiliate farm club of the Yankees. The left-hander possessed a great fast ball and sharp-breaking curve and excellent control. It was generally expected that Duke would report to the Yankee’s spring training in Florida and then be sent to Newark to be on call when one of the Yankee starting pitchers got hurt or did not perform well.

  That meant when he was called up to the big leagues during yet another Yankees run to the World Series, he was rubbing elbows with the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig among others. Had he been a part of any other major league organization, he might have well had a long and prosperous big-league career.

Keith Brooking – Football

  Few high school football players realize their dream to play in the NFL. An even smaller percentage play their high school, college and pro football in their home state. But Senoia native Keith Brooking did.

  After graduating from East Coweta High in 1994, Brooking went on to play at Georgia Tech and started 35 straight games to end his college career. He became the leading tackler in school history with 467 career stops and was a finalist for the Dick Butkus Award, was the top tackler in the ACC in 1995.

  He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the 12th pick in the 1998 NFL draft and would go on to be a five-time Pro Bowl selection with the Falcons. During his tenure with the Falcons the team reached the Super Bowl in 1999.

Brooking became a free agent after the 2008 season and signed a three-year, $6 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys where he became the heart and soul of the defense and the team’s emotional leader. He played his final NFL season in 2012 with the Denver Broncos.

Wil Lutz – Football

  William “Wil” Lutz began his path to the National Football League as a star place kicker for the Northgate Vikings, before playing his college football just up the road at Georgia State.

  After earning the starting nod as Georgia State’s kicker four games into his freshman season, Lutz established himself as the team’s starting kicker for the remainder of his college career.

  After being undrafted and then waived by the Ravens an assistant coach with the Ravens called his friend, Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, and told him he needed to take a look at the kicker from Newnan. Lutz signed with New Orleans and would go onto a very successful run.

  He kicked 23 field goals during his rookie season, setting the record for the most field goals made by a rookie in franchise history and was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team.

  Lutz signed a five-year contract extension with the Saints prior to the 2019 season and played in New Orleans until he was reunited with Sean Peyton and the Denver Broncos, where he currently plays.

Brooke Hendrix – Soccer

Brooke Hendrix started playing soccer in Coweta County at a very young age. She played club soccer locally for Coweta Cannons and Concorde Fire South. In high school she helped Northgate win a State Championship in 2009. While she first dreamt about playing professionally at age 7, it wasn’t until she was a senior in college playing for the University of Mississippi that she knew she had a chance.

  Her first break was with Rangers FC in Scottish Women’s Premier League. After that she covered many miles playing in Switzerland, Iceland, Italy, USA, Australia, and England. She currently plays for, and captains, Reading FC in the English Womens Championship League.

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