The Daytona Beach area is no stranger to the sporting spotlight. Of course, it may be best known as the home to the world-famous Daytona International Speedway — which grabs the auto-racing world’s attention each year by hosting the DAYTONA 500, arguably the most prestigious event on the NASCAR calendar, and the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
But the legendary track isn’t the area’s only claim to sporting fame — a number of prominent athletes from a range of different sports have made their leaps to stardom from the Daytona Beach area. Consider these sporting stars who got their start right here on the sun-drenched shores of the Daytona Beach area:
Vince Carter: A veteran of 22 seasons in the NBA, this graduate of Mainland High School in Daytona Beach is the only NBA player ever to play in the league during four different decades — the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s. As a shooting guard/small forward, he played for the Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kinds and the Atlanta Hawks. He was a nine-time NBA All-Star and was named the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1999. At Mainland High, in addition to being a star on the hardwood, Carter also played quarterback for the football team and was named Volusia County Player of the Year in volleyball.
Chipper Jones: As an Atlanta Braves third baseman/left fielder from 1993 to 2012, this DeLand native punched his ticket to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by being named an MLB All-Star eight times and winning the 1995 World Series along the way. He was also named the National League’s MVP in 1999, twice won the Silver Slugger Award (1999 and 2000) and was the MLB batting champion in 2008. He played his high school baseball at T. DeWitt Taylor High School in Pierson and the Bolles School in Jacksonville.
Matt Every: Another Mainland High School graduate, this professional golfer has claimed wins on both the Nationwide Tour (Nationwide Tour Championship in 2009) and the PGA Tour (Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2014 and 2015). During his time on the Mainland Buccaneers men’s golf team, Every was named the Volusia County Golfer of the Year for four consecutive years, and he was selected to Florida’s all-state golf team after his junior and senior seasons. As a University of Florida golfer in the early 2000s, he was a first-team All-SEC selection three years in a row (2004, 2005 and 2006), and was a four-time All-American (2003-2006) for the Gators.
Lisa Andersen: A transplant from Virginia, Andersen moved to Daytona Beach at a young age and caught her first wave in the local waters at age 13. Surfing has been a big part of her life ever since — so big, in fact, she claimed a whopping four straight women’s world surfing championships between 1994 and 1997. The former Seabreeze High School Sandcrab has also been named one of the 100 “Greatest Sportswomen of the Century” by Sports Illustrated for Women, was the first woman to appear on the cover of Surfer Magazine, and was inducted into the Surfer's Hall of Fame in 2002. While she moved to California before graduating high school, she still names New Smyrna Beach as one of her favorite surf spots, as it gives her the feeling of “coming home.”
Phil Dalhausser: This professional beach volleyball player has claimed multiple world championships and Olympic gold (not to mention silver and bronze) on the sport’s sandy courts — and his path to volleyball heroics all started on the volleyball team during his senior year at Daytona Beach’s Mainland High School. After graduating from Mainland High, Dalhausser went on to play club volleyball for the Knights at the University of Central Florida before later going pro and moving to California.
Next time you’re ready for a vacation — for relaxation, sporting pursuits or otherwise — come visit Daytona Beach and walk in the footsteps of these famous athletes! Learn more about the area’s sports attractions and events, and start planning your visit today!