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Sports & Rec Blog

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

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.

It’s our best parade yet! Check out this list of EAST COBBER Parade Participants!


Cub Scouts lined up to participate in a past EAST COBBER Parade

Wondering who you’ll see at this year’s Candy Parade (aka: the EAST COBBER Parade & Festival)? Check out this who’s who of East Cobb community organizations, all appearing in the 19th Annual Parade this Saturday! The fun begins at 10am, don’t miss it!

(In order of appearance)

Mt. Bethel UMC Cub Scouts Pack 121
Cobb County Commissioner JoAnn Birrell
Cobb County Fire Dept
Lockheed ES Girl Scouts
Sedalia Park Elementary School
Price for Congress
School of Rock East Cobb
Dickerson Middle School
East Marietta National Little League
State Representative Sharon Cooper
East Cobb Lions Club
Mt. Bethel UMC – Habitat Road Race
Moohan Martial Arts
Mellow Mushroom
Rotary Club of East Cobb
Girl Scouts-Daisy Troop 14406
Corrigan Care, Inc.
Friends for the East Cobb Park
Pope High School PTSA
Pope High School Marching Band
Hightower Trail Middle School
Pope Habitat for Humanity
PRO Martial Arts
Cub Scout Pack 770
Tritt Elementary School
Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta – Chattahoochee Service Unit
Pope High School Robotics
Walton Robotics
Pope High School Chorus
Junior League of Cobb-Marietta
East Cobb Civic Association
Pope Drama Club
Sparkles Family Fun Centers
Glamour Girls Day Spa
Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta Redbud Unit
Primrose School of Sprayberry
Cobb County Republican Party
Cub Scout Pack 795
Keheley Elementary School
Joyful Noise Marching Saints
Homeschool Band
Mt. Bethel Christian Academy
Addison Elementary PTA
Abbadabba’s Cool Shoes
Murdock Elementary School
Groovy Little Art Place
Walton High School PTSA
Walton High School Band
Mount Bethel Elementary School
Cub Scout Pack 797
State Farm Agency-Floria Izadi
Walton Jr. Raider Cheerleaders
Mt. Bethel Unicycle Club
Dodgen Middle School
League of Women Voters of Marietta-Cobb
Faith Lutheran School
Cobb County Schools of Transportation
Cobb County Public Library System
Charter Org
Arrow Exterminators
Cactus Car Wash
Brumby Elementary School
Simpson Middle School
Lassiter Jr. Trojans Dance Team
Daniell Middle School & PTSA
Johnson Ferry Christian Academy
Dance Stop Company
Kid Chess
Temple Kol Emeth
Cheer Revolution Allstars
Aviation Wing of the Marietta
Museum of History
Aire Serv of North Atlanta


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!


Hot Lips Hustle 5K Run Celebrates 10 Years of Charity


The Hot Lips Hustle 5K will celebrate its 10th annual 5k event on September 20. This event was founded by a East Cobber Ryan Ernstes (a 5th grader at the time) born with a cleft palate who wanted to help other cleft children who could not afford the life changing surgery.

Although she is now a recent college graduate, she continues as director of the event and with help from many, many volunteers, to date the event has funded surgery for over 240 children.

The race is a fun family event and invites all ages of runners, walkers, and dogs with a special prize awarded to every dog. There are over 70 trophies given across 14 different age groups. Every participant receives a colorful Hot Lips Hustle tshirt. There is great (and free!) post-race food, and several door prizes including movie prize packages and a weekend stay at a resort. Where else can you get your  morning workout, tshirt, food and entertainment for only $22?

The 10th Annual Hot Lips Hustle 5K will take place at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 2922 Sandy Plains Road in Marietta/East Cobb.

Registration is limited so register now. Discounts are available for families  of 4. For more information and to register, visit


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September 13: A Day for East Cobbers To Celebrate



The 19th annual EAST COBBER Parade & Festival is scheduled for Saturday, September 13. The day’s festivities will be kicked off by the EAST COBBER Parade at 10am. The annual parade aims to build a sense of community and reinforce East Cobb County’s status as one of the best places to live in the metro Atlanta area. Floats, high school marching bands and a cornucopia of East Cobb groups will march down the one-mile parade route. Starting at 10am, the parade participants will march from Mount Bethel Elementary School’s parking
lot, travel south on Johnson Ferry Road, and then turn into the Fountains of Olde Towne shopping center.

Immediately following the EAST COBBER Parade, at approximately 11am, the EAST COBBER Festival will be held in the Fountains of Olde Towne shopping center (736 Johnson Ferry Road) parking lot. The Festival offers East Cobb County residents an opportunity to  come together and enjoy an afternoon of local entertainment, carnival games and good food. Booths will be set up to showcase  everything from jewelry to local schools to books. East Cobb kids will have plenty to do at the EAST COBBER Festival from getting their faces painted to taking a chance at a carnival game to hopping in a moonwalk. Festival goers will also be treated to food from East
Cobb restaurants and civic clubs.

Many thanks to this year’s sponsors: Equitable Management Corporation/Fountains of Olde Towne, WellStar, and the EAST COBBER. Thanks to their generosity this special event has become a popular pastime for East Cobb residents.

Come be a part of this very special, old-fashioned celebration – the 19th annual EAST COBBER Parade and Festival. Good food, vendors  and entertainment make it a great event for the whole family. If you are interested in marching in the Parade, renting a booth or  performing on the Festival stage, call the EAST COBBER at 770-640-7070 or visit


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


Introducing Coach Mo Dixon, Walton Football

Coach Mo Dixon introduces himself to the Walton community and shares what we can expect from the the 2014 team.


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Celebrate the opening of Noonday Creek Trail Wednesday

A special event 10 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 3, will celebrate the opening of Noonday Creek Trail, which links five of the trails in our area. This event marks the official connecting of the Silver Comet, Noonday Creek, Mountain to River, Chattahoochee River and Cumberland trails.

Noonday Creek Trail connects Town Center west to Alabama and south to the Chattahoochee River and Atlanta. The $11.6 million multi-use trail is seven miles in length with trailheads and parking throughout the corridor.

The event will be held at one of the trail’s five pedestrian bridges. A tent will be visible along the north side of Town Center at Cobb Mall. Parking will be available in the mall’s parking lot. The celebration is sponsored by the Town Center Area Community Improvement District.

The Noonday Creek Trail is a culmination of efforts among the Town Center CID, Cobb County, Georgia Department of Transportation and the National Park Service. Future phases of the trail will also connect to Noonday Park and northward toward and into Cherokee County. Plans for a proposed 42-acre park near the mall will be on display at the ribbon cutting event.


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Walton unseats Harrison in county tournament

Tai Bierria stepped up for Walton in the final match of Saturday’s county tournament, helping Walton win the title by handing Harrison its first loss of the season. Staff photo by Jeff Stanton


Walton may be a stronger team than it thinks.

After winning four straight state championships, the Lady Raiders had some concerns after graduating most of their top hitters from last year’s title team.

While it’s still early in the season, Walton seemed to be pleased with the offensive output it got Saturday.

The Lady Raiders played in the Cobb County Tournament for the first time in five years and had enough firepower to not only win the title, but hand defending champion Harrison its first loss of the season with a 25-23, 17-25, 15-9 victory Saturday at Marietta High School.

Senior Ashley Miller and junior newcomer Tai Bierria stepped up as the offensive stalwarts for Walton (6-2), giving the Lady Hoyas fits up front with seven kills each and a combined three block-assists.

But what really helped Walton overcome Harrison (16-1) is its experience of playing under pressure. The Lady Raiders came out a different team in the third set, after the Lady Hoyas dominated the second.

“I think that we just had to settle down and relax and to take pressure off ourselves,” Walton coach Suzanne Fitzgerald said. “We kind of turned against each other in the second set when things got intense, rather than channeling our energy against the opponents.

“In the third set, we just settled down and realized that we were playing our favorite sport in the world.”

Walton also benefitted from several hitting and mental errors by Harrison’s players.

With the third set even at 2-all, the teams engaged in what turned out to be the lengthiest point of the match, ultimately ending when Maddie Bright missed a cross-court kill attempt that landed just past the sideline. Bright’s miss gave Walton its first lead of the third set, and it was the start of a six-point Lady Raider run on Dalaney Hans’ serve.

Walton gained even more momentum on the following point when Bierria and Miller blocked a Harrison attack. Another hitting error by Harrison followed, and Walton then caught a break when Bierria’s serve tipped the net and fell on Harrison’s side of the court.

Ahead 6-2 in the final set, the Lady Raiders got more separation when Bierria followed with a kill, and then another service ace, before Harrison coach Clay Taylor called his second timeout of Walton’s run.

Walton held its lead by allowing Harrison to win just two points on serve. A kill by Ashley Dean gave the Lady Raiders a 13-8 lead, and they would go on to win the final two points of the match on Harrison miscues.

“We just put it all out there (in the third set), and it was great to win,” Bierria said. “We passed a lot better. We didn’t let (Harrison) get into our heads. We really just stuck together as a team.”

Hans, typically a defensive specialist, finished with 15 assists as a setter after switching positions with Celeste Fitzgerald, who moved to libero. The switch was made to give Walton more offensive options.

Harrison’s Caroline Ostman and Katie Doering each finished with eight kills. Over the weekend, Ostman became the first Harrison player to eclipse 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs.

Bright and Abigail Moss each had three kills, while Jocelyn Mahayag, Camryn Bihary and Kodi Smith had two aces apiece.

“The team played well all day,” Taylor said. “Proud of the effort put forth. We have work to do each day to make our team better. We will be back in the gym on Tuesday to reach our team beat.”

Walton defeated Walker and Lassiter in straight sets in bracket play to reach the finals. Harrison advanced to the championship with two-set wins over Pope and North Cobb.

(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal, August 31, 2014. Written by Adam Carrington. Click HERE to read the MDJ article.)