There have been countless athletes talented enough to make an impact in Northeast Georgia, but there aren’t many as decorated as Lauren Darnell.
Darnell, a 2006 Gainesville High Graduate, was a standout for the Red Elephants in three different sports — golf, basketball and volleyball, making her one the area’s most versatile athletes in recent years.
Though she was respected in all three sports, Darnell will likely be remembered for her accomplishments on the golf course, which has landed her a spot in the Northeast Georgia Hall of Fame’s Elite 10.
"It’s a great honor to be named along with the great athletes from around here," Darnell said.
A regular at Chattahoochee Golf Course since she was five years old, Darnell racked up numerous victories as a golfer. She won two team state titles with Gainesville (2003, 2004) an individual state title in 2005, state runner-up in 2004 and four Hall County and Region 7-AAA titles.
As she kept winning, the honors began piling up as well. By the time she graduated, she had been named Times Girls Golfer of the Year four times (2003-2006), and held the lowest tournament average in school history at 72.5.
As a basketball player, she won two state titles in 2003 and 2004, and was a two-time All-area honorable mention. She was a first-team All-Area selection in volleyball as well.
"It was always a goal of mine to be on a team that could compete for a state championship," Darnell said. "It was great to able to do it in a couple of sports."
When it came time to move on to college, Darnell took her clubs to Stetson University in Florida. A key part of the Hatters for the past three seasons, she won an Atlantic Sun Conference title this past year, as a junior.
"It was a great accomplishment for our team," Darnell said. "It’s been great. I’ve really learned a lot about golf, and I’ve made a lot of great friends on the team."
The Northeast Georgia Sports Hall of Fame is located in the Northeast Georgia History Center on the campus of Brenau University.
The History Center will recognize athletic excellence at a luncheon at 11:30 a.m., Aug. 29, at the Georgia Mountain Center in downtown Gainesville. Guest speaker Damon Evans, athletic director for the University of Georgia, will help honor 15 Northeast Georgia Athletes and one highly successful team. There will be five retired athletes inducted into the Northeast Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and an additional "Elite 10" athletes, some of Northeast Georgia’s best athletes of the last 10 years.
Table sponsorships are available for $350, and table sponsors may choose to have their table host one of the athletes to be recognized on a first-come, first-served basis. A limited number of individual tickets are available for $25. Call the History Center at 770-297-5900 to make your reservations.