The six honorees from Cherokee County’s high schools received some guidance from 27-year-old Atlanta Dream point guard Lindsey Harding, who spoke about her experiences, and how she has succeeded in the WNBA.
The former Duke star, one of two Blue Devils women’s basketball players to have their jersey retired, was the first overall pick by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2007 WNBA draft. She spent the first two seasons with the Lynx before being traded to the Washington Mystics in 2009, and then to Atlanta two years later.
Harding was a key weapon for the Dream, averaging 10.5 points and 4.8 assists per game in helping Atlanta to its second straight appearance in the WNBA finals.
During her speech Monday, Harding talked about one of the biggest scares of her basketball career, when she tore her ACL during her rookie season with Minnesota. Unsure if she would ever be the same player following her recovery, Harding stressed the importance of academics and education to go along with athletics.
“She was so personable, and I enjoyed listening to her talk about how important it is to be in involved in schoolwork while focusing on basketball and sports in general,” said Etowah’s Payton Donley, a two-sport standout who has signed with Jacksonville State on a soccer scholarship. “When I go to college, I’m going to keep that in mind.”
The Bobbie Bailey Awards have long been an annual tradition in recognizing female athletes from high schools in Cherokee, Cobb, Bartow, Douglas and Paulding counties. The award’s namesake is also a longtime benefactor at Kennesaw State, her name not only gracing the auditorium where Monday’s ceremony is held, but also the complex that houses Kennesaw State’s baseball and softball field — as well as the softball field itself.
Multi-sport standouts were honored from three of the county’s six schools. In addition to Donley, other honorees included Woodstock’s Makensie Block, a three-sport athlete in cross country, basketball and track and field, and Bree Wells, who’s split her time between softball and basketball.
Creekview’s Alyssa Nichelson (basketball), River Ridge’s Shannon Driscoll (soccer) and Sequoyah’s Taylor Roy (swimming) were single-sport athletes representing their respective schools Monday.
Roy drew notice two years, ago as a sophomore, when she won a Class AAAA-A state title in both the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events. After missing much of last season with an illness, the senior bounced back, earned a scholarship to swim at Florida and eager to win another set of titles in this weekend’s state championships at Georgia Tech.