• 48°

Athlete of the Year nominees: Sweet Water

Rachel Mayton

Class: Senior

Sports: Volleyball and basketball

Athlete on Athlete: “She’s good. She can spike and she sets very well. She can serve too. Before a game, she has to have her nails painted black and she listens to her iPod. She’s a good person to get along with. She’s nice. She’s a good friend to go to. On the floor, she tries to set it up so everyone gets a chance. She tries to let everyone get their moment and get their time to hit.” – Sweet Water volleyball player Jacqueseya White

Coach Speak: “She was a good leader for those girls, a real scrappy type girl. She is one who had some success before she got to Sweet Water in both volleyball and basketball. I think that helped her. she had a real calming effect on those girls. Rachel has a lot of savvy about her when she’s playing. It is easy to see. I think the girls had a certain respect for that.” – Sweet Water girls basketball coach Stacy Luker

The Skinny: Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Rachel Mayton is the way she was able to blend in so quickly at Sweet Water. She found success early, winning state championships in volleyball at Clarke-Prep before moving around. After spending only a month at Sweet Water as a sophomore, Mayton moved to upstate New York for her junior year. Then, aiming to graduate from her father’s alma mater, she returned to Sweet Water for her senior year. Despite the lack of familiarity with her teammates or surroundings, Mayton was able to provide considerable leadership in both basketball and volleyball. And while she admits basketball is her first love, a sport she says she is willing to play at any time, it is volleyball that will keep her busy for the foreseeable future as she will continue her playing days at Huntingdon College in Montgomery.

Johnny Lockett

Class: Senior

Sports: Football, baseball and basketball

Athlete on Athlete: “We have a lot of confidence in him, especially on offense. We sort of put things on his shoulders and let him run with it. He’s physical. As a teammate, we get along with him. He’s not always the most vocal guy though. He just gets it. He doesn’t talk in class a lot. He listens. He is one of those people that hears it one time and remembers it.” – Sweet Water three-sport athlete Chris Landrum

Coach Speak: “He did everything we asked of him as an eight through 10th grader and just sort of waited his turn. He more than proved that he can play the running back position. He’s got a real laid back demeanor. I don’t think he ever felt the pressure. He had a real maturity even in junior high. You don’t see that much. He’s just focused on his education. In life beyond football, he’ll do well.” – Sweet Water football coach Stacy Luker

The Skinny: He just gets it. Johnny Lockett is a rare breed. He followed a Sweet Water legend in Anthony Landrum and never cracked under the pressure. He overcame injuries and was a Class 1A First Team All-State running back during his junior and senior years. He was a finalist for the Class 1A Back of the Year Award in 2008. He has also been a starter in baseball and basketball, the former being his favorite sport to play. And he turned down offers from a handful of Division I schools including Auburn, who wanted him to be a kick return specialist. Why? Because he was taken by South Alabama’s emphasis on education. So he will take his football skills down to Mobile and the still-developing Jaguars where he will try to complete his degree early and begin work in a graduate program. Lockett said he will also try to play baseball for the Jaguars. But amazingly, Lockett, a tremendously gifted athlete still views sports as just a means to an end. And that end for Lockett is all about funding an education so his mother would not have to. Yep. He just gets it.