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Sports & Rec Blog

Showcases and spotlights local high school sports and sports leagues. Recreational resources are also reviewed.

Calling all 10U & 13U Girls Basketball Players

Woman holding basketball

East Marietta Basketball (, the premier recreational basketball league in this area, is holding its 10u and 13u girls evaluations next week.  Last year, over 1,000 girls and boys from 8 – 18 played in the league.  Games are played at the area middle schools and high schools, as well as some of the local parks like Fullers.  Teams practice one day per week and play one game per week.  The season runs from mid-October through the beginning of February (to avoid conflicts with Fall and Spring sports), but teams are off for holiday breaks.

Evaluations for 13u Girls will be Sunday October 5 at Fullers Park from 1 – 3 pm; the 10u girls will tryout immediately afterwards at Fullers Park from 3:30 – 5 pm.  There are makeup evaluations for those that miss Sunday on Monday October 6 from 6 – 7 pm(10u), and 7- 8 pm (13u).  You must attend an evaluation session to play.

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High fliers: Cheerleading calls for commitment along with spirit

Walton coaches Roberta Manheim and Christy Lewis watch practice Thursday for a cheer competition this weekend. Staff-Kelly J. Huff

They are on the sidelines every week without fail. They encourage the team and keep the crowds engaged. Cheerleaders are as much a part of football as what takes place on the field, but they rarely get the same credit.

The cheerleaders at Walton High School have seen years of success, but the school’s longtime coach said the amount of work required on a weekly basis requires a significant commitment from the girls on the squad.

“They put in a lot of time and a lot of work, and what most people see is just the girls out there on Friday night for a few hours,” said Roberta Manheim, cheerleading coach at Walton. “I don’t think they realize the time commitment that’s involved for those few hours on Friday night.”

Manheim is in her 15th year of coaching cheerleading at Walton, and the competition squad has made it to the state level competition 11 of those years, she said. While the squad has yet to take home the top prize, Manheim said it has won regional competitions.

The cheerleading program is split into several groups, Manheim said. There is a freshman squad, which cheers for football and basketball, and a junior varsity squad, which cheers for the JV basketball team.

There is also the 29-member varsity squad, which cheers for the Walton varsity football team on Friday nights.

Seventeen members of the team also take part in cheerleading competitions. The other 12 members cheer for the varsity basketball team in the spring.

In addition to a three-hour practice Thursday, the varsity squad prepares for Friday night’s game by making decorations for the school and the stadium.

“Basically, (we) just get ready for Friday nights, whatever we have to do,” Manheim said. “Friday nights, we’re out there to support the football team.”

Fridays are particularly hectic for the squad. Today, the squad will arrive at school at 7:30 a.m., travel to Wheeler High School for the game after school, cheer during the game, then ride the bus back to Walton, Manheim said. The girls won’t head home until about 10:30 p.m.

The competition cheerleaders practice three times a week, Manheim said. Practice is at Walton on Monday for about an hour and a half after school, and the squad travels to Stingrays Allstars, a private cheerleading gym in Marietta, for additional training Tuesday.

Then, the competition squad joins the other varsity cheerleaders for a three-hour practice on Thursday before cheering the games Friday.

“It can be a little hard at times, but you really just have to adjust and learn that if you want to be a varsity competition cheerleader that it takes a lot of work,” said Emily Justice, 16, a junior on the competition team.

“It just depends on how late you can stay up, how focused you are in school and your ability to get your work done, like using your lunch and going to the library. You honestly just have to study more and be more motivated just so you have the extra time to put in for practice.”

Justice said even though the squad doesn’t have a scheduled practice Wednesday, she still works on conditioning and cardio to be a better cheerleader.

Rachel Friday, 17, a senior at Walton, said while the squad doesn’t lift weights or run sprints, going over the routines repeatedly at practice provides conditioning for the group.

Senior Cara Seckman, 17, said she has a schedule full of Advanced Placement classes, which offer college credit. She said she is also an officer of the National Honor Society, involved in Beta Club and on the Principal’s Leadership Committee.

Despite all her commitments, Seckman said she makes time for practice and competition for the camaraderie the squad provides.

“We’re a support system for each other, she said. “We’re all sisters, and we’re all working towards a common goal. And we all love cheerleading.”

Justice echoed this sentiment, saying she’s an only child, so getting to spend time with 16 people she considers sisters is “awesome.”

Friday said it can be hard to balance school and cheerleading, but she wouldn’t want to miss a single practice.

“I always get excited for practices, even though I know that they’re going to be really hard,” she said.

Quinn Marshall, 17, a junior, shared the sentiment of the rest of her squad, saying it can get a bit overwhelming at times, but it pays off when the group performs.

“Cheerleading’s always been a part of my life,” Marshall said. “I’ve been coming to the Walton Cheer Camp since kindergarten. It’s always interested me. I used to be a gymnast and a dancer, and it’s the perfect combination of the two. And I just love getting a chance to go out and perform for people.”

The Walton competition team will take part in its first meet of the year Saturday at Allatoona High School. Friday said the squad is ready.

“I think we’re all kind of nervous, but we’re really excited to compete together for the first time,” she said.

Manheim said the girls keep “very intense” schedules, and have to put in a lot of work in a very condensed time frame.

“Honestly, it’s like any other sport,” Manheim said.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Ricky Leroux, September 26, 2014.)

Marietta Derby Darlins Announce Final Home Bout of the Season

marietta derby darlins

Local favorites the Marietta Derby Darlins will be hosting their fourth and final home bout of their third season at the Cobb Civic Center in Marietta, Georgia, on October 4th, 2014.

Season 3, Bout 3 is a double-header featuring two full bouts. During the first bout of the evening, The Marietta Derby Darlins will host a juniors bout where the Atlanta Derby Brats will face The Rome Rollerettes.The second bout of the evening will feature hometown favorites The Marietta Derby Darlins vs. the Rome Rollergirls.

The modern sport of roller derby is a fast-paced, full contact team sport that requires athleticism, speed, and strategy. The athletes take it very seriously, and dedicate a large portion of their time to practice and training. There are official sanctioning bodies with regional, national, and even international competition. Play is governed by a defined rules set and enforced by referees and officials.

Doors open at 4 pm. The first bout, featuring the Atlanta Derby Brats vs. the Rome Rollerettes will begin at 5 pm. The Marietta Derby Darlins will face the Rome Rollergirls at 7 pm.

Save the date to preview Mabry Park


Mabry Park Preview Day will be 9 a.m. – noon, Saturday, Oct. 11. Enjoy a walking tour of the property and learn more about this park.

Park at Wesley Chapel UMC, 4495 Sandy Plains Road and take the shuttle to the park.

To learn how to become a part of District 3’s newest passive park, and to remain updated and sign up for their monthly newsletter.


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East Marietta players attend Braves groundbreaking


The Atlanta Braves invited players from the East Marietta Little League to their recent groundbreaking. East Marietta players enjoyed the experience and even left some Sewell Park dirt on the field.

It was a great day for East Marietta baseball!

Volunteers: The (chain) gang is all here


The Lassiter Trojans chain gang — Jim Hutson, Brett McClung, John Jones and Chip McMinn — have a whopping 43 years of experience on Friday nights running the yard sticks. They have put 11 kids through Lassiter High School combined over the years and are currently in their ninth season as a unit.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Volunteers The chain gang is all here)

High school volleyball coach accused of kissing, fondling student

Justin Allen Blankenbecler

A Cobb County high school volleyball coach is accused of kissing and fondling one of his players at school, according to his arrest warrant.

Justin Allen Blankenbecler, of Kennesaw, was arrested Thursday afternoon and charged with two counts of sexual assault, both felonies, and one misdemeanor count of sexual assault, Cobb jail records showed. He was being held Friday afternoon on $10,000 bond.

Blankenbecler, in his first year at Kell High School, is the coach for the junior varsity girls team, according to the school’s website. The alleged assault happened Wednesday afternoon and involved one of his players, according to his warrant, obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Under Georgia law, consent is not an eligible defense for those with supervisory and disciplinary authority over an alleged victim of sexual assault.

Blankenbecler, a special education teacher, is a Virginia native who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from George Mason University, according to his online profile on the Kell website.

The Cobb County school system declined to comment on the arrest.

(Written by Alexis Stevens, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Reprinted from, September 12, 2014.)

Pope HS to realize Arbor Terrace resident’s cheerleading dream


On Friday, September 26, Second Wind Dreams and the Pope High School cheerleading squad will make a cheerleading dream come true for an elder of the East Cobb community. This dream fulfillment will take place during the home football game against Cherokee High School at 7:30 pm. The public is invited to the game. Admission is $7 and parking is $5.

Lynn, an 85-year old dreamer and resident of Arbor Terrace of East Cobb, will cheer alongside the school’s cheerleaders during the game’s first quarter. Lynn will also escort the school’s mascot during the “dog walk.” Lynn grew up cheerleading through high school and at the University of Georgia. Pope student, Shelby Stokes, a volunteer at Arbor Terrace of East Cobb, discovered this dream of Lynn’s. It is being made possible by Second Wind Dreams which is an international, nonprofit organization founded in 1997. This organization is changing the perception of aging through the fulfillment of dreams and educational programs including its flagship program, The Virtual Dementia Tour.

Please join the Pope community as they show acceptance and respect to a noble elder in the community. Most importantly, an energetic, lifelong cheerleader will be able to smile big as she cheers on the home team. Please visit the Second Wind Dreams website at, to learn more about this organization.

Pope High School is located at 3001 Hembree Road, Marietta, GA 30062.

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Thanks to this year’s Parade & Festival Sponsors!

Thank you to our EAST COBBER Parade & Festival sponsors for 2014!



Visit our 2014 Parade & Festival Guide for all you need to know about this year’s event!

Don’t miss the EAST COBBER Parade & Festival on Saturday, September 13! For Parade and Festival details click HERE!


Spend your fall break with NASA – register today!

Spend fall break improving your technical ability and tactical awareness of the game at North Atlanta Soccer Association’s Fall break Technical Skills camp. This camp is designed for the recreational players, who have a desire to stay involved in the game and take their skills to the next level. The camp will be held from Monday September 15 – Thursday Sept 18 at Walton High School. The daily camp times are 9:30am-noon. The camp will be ran by NASA’s Boys Director of coaching as well as other top coaches and former college players. The camp is designed to give personal attention to the individual player while teaching the skills to perform functional duties in attacking and defending. The cost of the camp is $90 per player.

Daily focus will be on the technical skills of dribbling, passing, shooting, receiving and heading before applying these technical skills in game like situations. The 1v1 defending and attacking principles, as well as combination play, will be the foundation for individual improvement and understanding of the game. Camp format, half the camp time is on technical skills and the other half is match condition training to assist with the understanding of how to play your position. Please use the link below to register for the camp. Registration closes on Friday September 12. All registered participants will receive final instructions on Friday Sept 12.