Mandy Lents Dixon has a very simple mantra when it comes to her participation in athletics: ‘Actions speak louder than words’. Mandy describes herself as being shy by nature and her athletic coaches along the way will tell you that she was not much of talker during her years of basketball and softball competition. Mandy’s performances in her 13-year sports career speak very loudly, however, loudly enough to gain her a place in the 2016 class of the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame.
Mandy grew up in Epworth and continues to reside there today. She is the daughter of Joann and Ray Lents, who gave her very strong support from her first day of athletic competition. Her mother, the former Joann Galloway, was a basketball player of some note at West Fannin High School in the late 50s and early 60s, so she was able to give Mandy plenty of constructive support including some tips that helped Mandy’s basketball game. In high school at Fannin County Mandy grew to about 5’ 8” which made her the tallest girl on the team. When she faced much taller opponents Mandy often used a hook shot taught to her by her mom to help her score over those taller opponents.
When she played for the West Fannin Middle School Yellow Jackets, Mandy was coached by a couple of local legends, Eddie Massengale and Jack Myers. When she arrived at Fannin County High School in 1986, she found herself under the tutelage of an even bigger legend in local and state circles, Johnny Farmer. Farmer was a huge influence on Matty, serving as her high school coach in both basketball and softball. She has this to say about Coach Farmer: “I realize how much he taught me and how much I respect him for being tough on us and urging us to always do our best. Thank you Coach Farmer for being the coach you were”.
During her high school career, Mandy Dixon won four varsity letters in basketball and three in softball. She scored more than 1,000 points in her basketball career with Fannin County High.
In basketball, Mandy was selected as the Most Improved Player as a sophomore and as the team Most Valuable Player and Best Offensive Player as a junior and senior. In 1989, she led the Lady Rebels to the final 8 in the Georgia Class AA state tournament for the first time in school history. The accomplishments of her 1988-89 team set a high bar of success for later Fannin County teams who enjoyed great success, including two state titles, in the 1990s.
For her efforts on the basketball court, Mandy was selected as the Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club as girls basketball Player of the Year in 1990. That same year she was selected to the Atlanta Journal/Constitution Class AA Honorable Mention All-State Team.
Mandy Dixon’s softball efforts were not too shabby either. She was the starting left fielder for the Lady Rebels from 1987-1990, a period during which her teams compiled a record of 83 wins and 23 losses. Her teams won the sub-region title during her junior and senior years, and the 1990 team made it to the final 8 in the state tournament. Her classmates voted her as the Most Athletic senior girl in 1990.
Following her graduation from Fannin County High School, Mandy signed a scholarship to compete in basketball and softball for the Piedmont College Lady Lions. Since Piedmont is located in the not-too-distant from Blue Ridge town of Cornelia, Mandy’s parents were able to attend many of her games just as they had done during the Fannin County days.
Mandy lost one of her biggest supporters when her father died in late 1993. Although her sports career was flourishing at Piedmont, Mandy’s grief threatened to end that career prematurely. Her mother convinced her to continue to compete because her dad loved to watch her play and would want her to finish her education and athletic career.
Mandy Lents Dixon scored a staggering 1,500 points during her basketball career at Piedmont College. She continued to pile up the trophies and received the Most Improved Player as a sophomore, and Best Offensive Player and Most Valuable Awards as a junior and senior. She also was a starter for the softball team for three seasons. Her coach had this to say about her basketball prowess: “Mandy Lents is extremely quick from the forward position. She’ll jump up and get a rebound and really surprise you. She is one of our better players but she is a quiet player so people don’t really notice Mandy for the type of player she is. She is one of those quiet heroes that you hear people talk about all the time”.
After graduating from Piedmont, Mandy returned to Fannin County to teach in the local school system. She currently teaches Language Arts at Fannin County Middle School. She met her husband, Brad at Piedmont, and they have now been married 20 years. The Dixons have two children. River Dixon is a junior at Fannin County High School and a college prospect as an offensive lineman. River also plays basketball and baseball. Daughter Jade is a 6th grader at the Middle School and plays softball and basketball. Mandy says that she and Brad “are so proud of the things River and Jade have accomplished in their time of playing sports. We supported our kids by coaching their Rec teams when they were younger and now by being members of booster clubs, fund raising, working concession stands or just being their biggest fans”.
When she graduated from Piedmont, Mandy thought that she wanted to return to Fannin County and enter the coaching profession. She was assigned to coach the 9th grade boys and assisted Coach Mike Paul in coaching the boys varsity. After a while, however, she decided that coaching was probably not for a young woman who wanted to raise and family and lead a normal family life. She says that she “is so competitive that she could not sleep after a loss and that coaching was consuming her time”. At this point in her life, it would appear that Mandy Lents Dixon is living the American Dream and is exactly where she wants to be.