Cobb Sports End-of-Year Wrap-Up


May is always a whirlwind of activities as schools look to close out the school year strong and begin preparing for the next one. This is no less true on Cobb's sports fields and courts as baseball, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, and track and field finish their seasons. There are also recurring awards like Coach of the Month, Athlete of the Week, and year-end honors and recognitions.

Speaking of Athletes of the Week, the District's final winners were from Campbell, Pope, Kennesaw Mountain, and North Cobb. Spartan tennis player Rajat Shirur won the penultimate boys award, while Greyhound track and field athlete Lane Scales won for the girls. The final two AOW awards for the 2023-24 school year went to Mustang soccer player Caleb Harvey and Warrior hurdler Jasmine Robinson.



April Coach of the Month honors went to two track and field coaches. Kell's Chaz Ferdinand and Osborne's Latisha Ironside have both done great things with their school's program in a short amount of time. May Coaches of the Month were awarded to Michaela Hicks from Allatoona and Danny DePlanche from Kennesaw Mountain. Coach Hicks is a three-sport coach for the Bucs, and Coach DePlanche is still celebrating Kennesaw's first team state championship in school history. Congratulations to all four of these outstanding educators and coaches!



Several Athletic Directors and one student-athlete from the District were also recognized for excellence at the Georgia Athletic Director Association's (GADA) annual conference. The following ADs were selected as Athletic Director of the Year in their respective regions:

Amie Howard – Allatoona High School
Region 6-6A Athletic Director of the Year

Wes Ellis – Harrison High School
Region 3-7A Athletic Director of the Year

Matt Williams – North Cobb High School
Region 5-7A Athletic Director of the Year

Rhett Howard from Allatoona was also chosen as the winner of the NIAAA Student-Athlete Scholarship. This is a $1500 scholarship from the national organization, the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Rhett now moves on to the sectional scholarship competition and will compete at a higher level.

Also, South Cobb AD Ormond Moore conducted a popular workshop at GADA on the nation's fastest-growing sport, Flag Football. McEachern's Myra Camese and Hillgrove's Jonathan Brown also led a popular workshop on difficult conversations. Both sessions were very well attended, as many at the conference wanted to start flag football programs of their own and be better equipped for the inevitable conflict and discussions that come with being a leader.

Pope AD Josh Mathews serves as the Associate Director for GADA and planned this year's entire conference, which was held at the Classic Center in Athens. "Josh did a fantastic job of planning and coordinating this year's event. It was the largest conference ever and was attended by over 250 ADs from across the state," said Cobb's Director of Athletics, Don Baker.

One of the highest honors bestowed at GADA is the GADA Bob Stichcomb Athletic Leadership Award, given in memory of one of the athletic administrative pioneers in Georgia. This award recognizes a distinguished AD for steadfast commitment to developing the role of athletic administrator across the state. The recipient demonstrates exceptional devotion to educating others and contributes extraordinary leadership. The 2024 winner of the Bob Stinchcomb Award was Cobb's own Don Baker.

"Don's scope of work in his role as Director of Athletics speaks for itself. His vision for athletics has taken Cobb to new levels and has built on the foundations laid by those before him. We do a podcast together [Hanging with the AD], and he has created an AD Roundtable that brings in ideas and strategies from all over the country. He looks beyond Cobb but is so good at adapting what he learns from others to Cobb. It was a joy to see him win this award," AD Mathews said.

Cobb's Athletic Department also has an award of its own that honors the District Athletic Director of the Year. Osborne's Ron Boggs won the award this year for his steadfast leadership of the entire athletic program at the school. His goal of "developing gritty, humble players and coaches" is paying off with long-term dividends. The football team made the postseason for the first time, the girls wrestling team won the county, and the school inducted its very first Athletic Hall of Fame, just to name a few. AD Baker (below, left) and AD Boggs (below, right) and their families were both recently recognized by the Board of Education for their awards.


Finally, to close out the 2023-24 school and sports year, it seemed fitting to highlight several Seniors who have exemplified strength, determination, and grit despite difficult circumstances. The following students are by no means the complete list but a very small sample of the inspiring student-athletes who walk the halls and run the fields all around Cobb School District. These write-ups were submitted by teachers at their schools.

Sarah Whaley, Allatoona

When Sarah was in ninth grade, she quietly collapsed on the tennis court during a school practice. Unbeknownst to anyone, Sarah had been fighting to breathe. She was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors discovered that she had a large tumor in her lungs, causing her lung capacity to be so reduced that she was near death. She was diagnosed with Primary Mediastinal Large B Cell Lymphoma. She underwent months of chemotherapy, surgery, and other treatments. It was suggested that she withdraw from school. She refused. She continued with her classes and tried to maintain contact with her friends, the tennis team, and her normal life as much as possible. At the beginning of the next school year, she attempted to return to Allatoona but did not have the stamina to make it from class to class. Again, she resisted the idea of “giving up,” and her team of doctors had to order her to stay home. She spent the rest of the year attending virtual classes but insisted on taking some Honors classes and extra academic electives. She did not want to fall behind on her plans to get into a good college and earn a degree in pediatric oncology nursing. As Sarah grew stronger and got closer to achieving her goal of returning to a “normal life,” her mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. This diagnosis in the time of COVID-19 kept Sarah home for the rest of her sophomore year, as her lungs were still compromised, and she also did not want to risk bringing an illness home to her mother. Finally, in August of 2022, Sarah was able to return to Allatoona. She re-entered the high school world with a mission to make up for lost time. She involved herself in everything she could while in the background, she consistently fought post-traumatic stress from her own illness and significant anxiety about her mother’s illness. Still, nothing slowed her down. She refused to give in to her worries and continued to excel. This year, Sarah has achieved her first goal of being accepted into the nursing program at Georgia Southwestern State University. Her next goal is to earn her degree to help other children and adolescents with cancer. Her mother has returned to the classroom where she teaches special education. The Whaley family continues to hurdle all the obstacles in their path. Sarah’s courage, perseverance, and downright stubborn refusal to miss out on anything life offers serve as a model of perseverance for all of us.


Lily Grubb, Harrison  

She is a rockstar in the classroom. I don't think she's ever gotten a B in a class, like ever. She is probably one of the most positive people ever. She's also cofounder of our Hoya Squad and was voted Prom Queen by her peers. She is a dedicated member of Sources of Strength and truly has a servant's heart. She is also a member of Varsity Competition Cheer, Sideline Cheer, Stingrays All-Star Cheerleading, Cobb Youth Leadership, National Honor Society, Beta Club, Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy, Science Honor Society, and Environmental Club.


Ricky Solorzano, Kell

Ricky Solorzano is an outstanding Senior. He’s an active leader and team player on and off the field. Ricky has been a starting pitcher for the Kell Varsity Baseball team and an active member and leader in FCA. He assisted our school’s athletic trainer during the fall semester by helping on the sidelines for the football and basketball players as a way to gain experience and a greater understanding of the profession. Academically, Ricky faced learning challenges, but you would see no evidence of this on his transcript, as he didn’t let these challenges affect his goals. His positive attitude and relational spirit allowed him to build strong relationships with teachers, case managers, coaches, and counselors who work as a team with him, just as he does in baseball, to help him achieve. He is respected by staff and students and puts in the extra hours, those optional hours not required by any individual, towards his learning and future. He has also faced familial challenges and has been raised and supported by his mother, a Cobb elementary school teacher. Ricky is an excellent representation of the CCSD mission statement and what it looks like to work as a team towards a goal for student success. He plans to attend Andrew College in Cuthbert, GA, on a baseball scholarship next year to study Health and Exercise Science.


Malia Everett, North Cobb

Malia Everett is an amazing young lady. She has gone through Leukemia (and corresponding treatments) throughout high school. Malia is on the Varsity Gold Team (allowed to use a cart) and played in the Sectionals of the GHSA State Playoffs in May. Malia was named Cobb County's Athlete of the Week last year. Malia has maintained a 4.356 GPA and will attend Georgia Tech in the Fall to major in Biomedical Engineering.


Sebastian Torres Urzua, Pope

Sebastian came to Pope in 10th grade, having spent his prior years in Mexico, his country of origin. He easily adapted to our culture and school, which is typically a challenge for international students. His grasp of English has been superbly fluent from the beginning. He’s a fantastic student, and his teachers love him. He’s earned straight As the whole time, but he also wisely chose courses that would allow him to flourish outside of school as well. Outside of school, he has taught himself several programming languages—Python, Java, HTML, CSS, and Arduino. Sebastian plans to major in industrial engineering and work in operations for a company. He would make a great manager or overseer of a team that works together efficiently to create a more profitable product. Sebastian is a very responsible and optimistic person. He views situations with a positive outlook and seeks to encourage others to look for the good, the explanation for why something might have gone wrong, or what can be learned from an unfavorable outcome. He takes active listening to heart and has a natural ability to bring calm to tense situations. He takes all the activities he participates in seriously and puts full effort into those things. Tennis is one of those things, and he was a member of Pope’s varsity team and was named MVP of the JV tennis team in 10th grade.


Amna Zia, Pebblebrook

Amna stands out because she is a highly motivated scholar whose reputation speaks for itself. She is a leader on campus and respected by all who encounter her. Since moving from Pakistan to the United States of America in 2020 (just before the COVID-19 pandemic), Amna has proven that obstacles to success can be overcome by hard work, perseverance, and confidence in one’s ability to thrive. Her love for science and technology has led her to excel in advanced placement courses while successfully leading the varsity tennis team to several championships as captain. As the only child born to a single mother, Amna is ready to show the world why she is worthy of every achievement that she has earned. In the Fall, Amna will attend the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she will pursue a degree in computer science with aspirations of a career in engineering.


Congratulations to all for a very successful and memorable 2023-24 sports year. We are proud of each and every one of you and look forward to what is to come next year. See you in 2024-25!