Austin is known for many things, prying itself as the Live Music Capital of the World. What sometimes gets overlooked, however, is the countless athletes who come out of the area.
Here's a non-comprehensive look at the athletes who call Austin home.
The former first round pick by the Brooklyn Nets began his career at Round Rock High School before transferring to St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Austin. While in high school, Allen impressed scouts and fans with his athleticism and rebounding, helping the team become the McDonald's All American team in 2016. In 2016, Allen was named the International Basketball Federation Americas Under 18 Championship team for the U.S., where Allen and his team won gold against Brazil. After two state titles with St. Stephens, Allen decided to stay in Austin and committed to the University of Texas where he played one season for the Longhorns. Allen averaged 13 points and eight rebounds his lone freshmen season. His standout moment while at UT was his 22 point,19 rebound game against the University of Kansas. Allen was the 22nd pick in the 2017 draft and has averaged 10 points and 7.8 rebounds in his three NBA seasons.
Before he was throwing touchdown passes on Sundays, the New Orleans Saints quarterback was lighting up the scoreboard for the Westlake Chaparrals. After moving to Austin with his family as a kid, Brees excelled in baseball and football. In 1996, his junior year of High School, Brees led the 16-0 Chaparrals to the state championship winning Texas High School 5A Most Valuable Offensive Player in the process. In the two years as a starter for Westlake, Brees threw for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns, making a 28-0-1 record. Even with all the high school success, Brees did not receive any scholarship offers from UT or Texas A&M. Brees would eventually end up in New Orleans, winning the franchise only Super Bowl and setting countless NFL records in the process.
Mark Calaway "The Undertaker"
One of the most famous wrestlers alive, Mark Calaway otherwise known as "The Undertaker," is an Austinite. The longest tenured wrestler with a 30-year career, The Undertaker is also a seven time world heavyweight champion with the World Wrestling Federation which later became World Wrestling Entertainment. Starting in the late 1980's Calaway began wrestling on the Texas circuit before moving from the World Champion Wrestling to the the WWF where he made his debut as Kane the Undertaker. The Undertaker is universally recognized as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and has had fellow Austin legend Mark Henry, the World's Strongest Man, and WWE chairman Vince McMahon both say that The Undertaker is their favorite. Calaway is now semi-retired and living in Austin.
Born and raised in Austin, Foles also played for the Westlake Chapparrals football team graduating in 2007. As the starting quarterback for two years, Foles threw for 56 touchdowns and 5,600 yards. Foles broke many of the records that Drew Brees had set while playing for Westlake. After graduating from the University of Arizona, Foles was drafted in the third round by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012. After a short stint with the Eagles, he was traded to the St. Louis Rams for former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford before eventually ending back up on the Eagles team in 2017. Foles would take over for an injured Carson Wentz and lead the Eagles to an improbable 2018 Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots, winning Super Bowl MVP honors in the process. Foles currently plays for the Chicago Bears.
(Michele Moore/ CC)
The Austin native attended Bowie High School where he was a two-year starter at running back and defensive back, winning district and state honors in the process. Griffin decided to stay at home and attend the UT where he started his college career as a true freshman. Griffin is ranked in the top ten in tackles at UT and his eight blocked kicks ranks second all time in NCAA Division I history. Griffin was also a major piece for the 2005 National Champion Longhorns team that was able to defeat the University of Southern California in what some considered the greatest college football game ever played. Griffin intercepted a pass at the goal in what was a major turning point in the game. The two time All American was drafted in the first round in 2007 by the Tennessee Titans making two Pro Bowls and being named second team all pro in 2010 during his nine-year career. Griffin and former college teammate Brian Orakpo co-own Gigi's Cupcakes in Austin recently.
The former Heisman Trophy winner started his career playing football at Lake Travis playing for the Cavaliers. While in High School, Mayfield had a 25-2 record winning the 2011 4A State Championship. Two years as the starting quarterback, the eventual No. 1 overall pick threw for more than 6,000 yards and 67 touchdowns. After starting his college career at Texas Tech, Mayfield eventually ended up playing for the Oklahoma Sooners where he had one of the best careers in college football history. The two time All American is the only walk-on ever to win the Heisman Trophy, college football's most prestigious award given to the most outstanding player. Mayfield also had the third highest number of first place votes ever for the award, totalling 732 first place votes. In 2018, the Cleveland Browns drafted Mayfield first overall. Baker showed that the Browns made the right choice quickly by setting the rookie quarterback touchdown record with 27. During the coronavirus pandemic, Mayfield had his Browns' wide receivers over at his Austin home to train.
The former No. 1 player Andy Roddick moved to Austin with his family and lived there for seven years before moving to Boca Raton, Florida to help further his brother's tennis career. Roddick had his first major victory when in 2000 he won the Australian Open junior singles title at 17. Entering the pros at 18, Roddick proved he was the real deal after beating No. 4 Pete Sampras in the Miami Masters. Later that year he beat No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten and had excellent finishes in the 2001 French Open and Wimbledon. In 2003 at 21 years old, Roddick achieved his goal of being the No. 1 player in the world, becoming the youngest American to hold the rank. In 2017 Roddick was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He currently resides in Austin.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on three charges—second- and third-degree murder as well as manslaughter—in the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man whose final moments were recorded by onlookers, sparking a global protest movement over police violence and racial injustice. He faces up to 40 years in prison.
Jurors deliberated for 10 hours over two days after an intense, three-week trial before reaching a verdict Tuesday afternoon, four days shy of the first anniversary of the Austin police killing of Mike Ramos, an unarmed, 42-year-old Black and Hispanic man whose name became a rallying cry—along with Floyd's—for Austin protestors, who marched en masse last summer, prompting some police reforms.
Austin Police Department Officer Christopher Taylor was charged with first-degree murder—an unprecedented charge in Travis County—in the case of Ramos' death on March 10. But Warren Burkley, community outreach director for the Austin Justice Coalition, was measured in his response to the Chauvin verdict. "It's highly visible accountability, so it will give people hope in the system," he told Austonia. "But it's just one innocent life taken. And even in this city, this happens regularly, and it doesn't make national news."
Local elected officials, community leaders and residents also responded to the news as APD officers spent their second day on tactical alert, prepared to respond to any protests or demonstrations, and City Council heard recommendations from a task force on how to reimagine public safety.
Chauvin guilty on three charges!!!!
— Chas Moore (@iGiveYouMoore) April 20, 2021
Full justice would mean that George Floyd was still with us. But today's guilty verdict represents a historic step toward justice and for his family. So important now for the Senate to approve the House George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.https://t.co/9zUOgZYg4L
— Lloyd Doggett (@RepLloydDoggett) April 20, 2021
For the first time we saw accountability in the courts for the murder of an innocent Black person.
Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd on camera.
This prosecution is historic. People are feeling temporary relief. This is more than Justice, this is #AccountabilityforGeorgeFloyd. https://t.co/HlBqW7sScx
— Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (@EddieforTexas) April 20, 2021
Many of us have been afraid for days that Derek Chauvin would be found not guilty, despite what the video so clearly showed in broad daylight. The guilty verdict today provides important accountability, but it does not provide real justice. (1/5) ⬇️
— Gregorio Casar (@GregCasar) April 20, 2021
George Floyd's murder led to national protests and calls for the enactment of policing and social justice reforms, including here in Austin. We have made a commitment here to holding police officers accountable and to implementing social justice and policing reforms.
— Mayor Adler | 😷wear a mask. (@MayorAdler) April 20, 2021
Derek Chauvin's conviction is only one step towards providing healing/justice for George Floyd's family + for our nation as a whole. It's up to us to honor Mr. Floyd + the many others lost to police violence by transforming public safety and making our communities safe for all. https://t.co/RVgQmcAf6I pic.twitter.com/hCHLibYjoy
— Council Member Alison Alter (@ALTERforATX) April 20, 2021
No person should be above the law. If you transgress the law you should be held accountability.
Derek Chauvin- GUILTY
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) April 20, 2021
George Floyd's murder heightened the long-overdue national conversation on systemic racism. Derek Chauvin has been found guilty, but this is just one step on a long road towards racial equity. We must enact significant systemic changes in order to achieve justice.
— Every Texan (@EveryTxn) April 20, 2021
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Californians love Texas, and Austin—with its liberal politics, relatively affordable housing and job opportunities—is particularly adored. In fact, the Lone Star State was the main recipient of departing Californians in 2019, according to the latest available U.S. Census Bureau data.
But other states, including Florida, are seeing increased interest. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has made a name for himself on Twitter recruiting techies and hyping up his city, which has a lot in common with Austin—with the added benefit of a beach and sans the "Don't California my Texas" attitude.
California expats and industry experts say Austin remains the bigger draw for Californians, especially those in the tech sector, but warn that this advantage could shift to Miami if the city doesn't address the policy challenges that prompted the migration in the first place: housing affordability.
"If Austin doesn't accommodate this influx, I think all the talent will come to Miami," said Peter Yared, a tech entrepreneur who moved to Miami from San Francisco in September. "I think Miami's going to be the one that sucks it all up."
Both Texas and Florida promise business-friendly state tax policies, and their governors tout the relocations of companies such as Tesla and Oracle from California. But Darien Shanske, a law professor at the University of California Davis whose specialties include taxation, said this is a red herring because corporate taxes are based on where sales occur rather than headquarter locations.
This is not to say other state policies are irrelevant. "The area in which California regulatory policy has been, in my opinion, not a complete failure but problematic … is housing policy," Shanske said. Austin and Miami can offer "not cheap, just cheaper" housing than what is available in Silicon Valley. Plus, both cities are developing a critical mass of talent, which further draws Californians in. "If you're a software engineer, you want to live near other software engineers," he added.
But not every Californian is motivated to move. "San Francisco is a fantastic place to live if you can afford it," said Brandy Aven, a professor of entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. As a result, it's more common for what she called the labor—engineers, programmers and even company founders—to relocate to cities such as Austin and Miami than the monied venture capitalists. Burgeoning tech cities may find that they need to develop homegrown investor networks to support local ventures in the absence of Californian transplants, but she believes this is doable.
Paul O'Brien, CEO of the Austin-based MediaTech Ventures and a startup veteran, moved to Austin from California in 2009, during the Great Recession. "I'm a firm believer that the world has been seeking an alternative to Silicon Valley for a long time," he said, pointing to Austin as the natural heir for myriad reasons.
Austin has regional appeal as the epicenter of three of the country's largest cities—Houston, Dallas and San Antonio—and their respective industry niches. Tech entrepreneurs could cater to the local consumer goods industry or Houston's oil and gas sector. Plus the city has cultural appeal, thanks to the Red River District and South by Southwest, which made it attractive to job seekers. "The whole reason everyone moved to Silicon Valley is opportunity," O'Brien said. "The whole reason people are now looking beyond Silicon Valley to somewhere else is opportunity."
It's less clear what Miami's key industries are, O'Brien said, but the city offers other selling points, including the mayor's buy-in and "a tremendous depth of wealth" to support a technology and startup ecosystem.
Although Yared didn't consider moving to Austin, he is aware of its appeal to engineers, especially now that their hero, Elon Musk, has moved there, shunning California. "Austin has a lock on tech," he said, but Miami draws a different crowd, including financiers from New York. This parallel migration, coupled with the city's more outwardly pro-growth building policies, gives him hope that Miami could supplant Austin in the coming years. "In the end, communities get to choose what they want," he said.
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In the days after Austin FC's inaugural match against LAFC on Saturday, Head Coach Josh Wolff says he's watched the game "a number of times, to say the least."
In the match, Wolff and over 500,000 other viewers looked on as Austin FC took to the pitch for the first time, held their own in the first half against LAFC and eventually fell 2-0 to a team that's sometimes regarded as the best in the league.
Austin FC had the largest television audience of any soccer match in the U.S. over the weekend, surpassing even the USWNT. In a showcase of the club's dedicated fan base, dozens of Los Verdes fans were spotted in green and black around the stadium—even with the match limited to 20% capacity.
Salute the support. 👏
It's only the beginning for @AustinFC. pic.twitter.com/TduorqYr2y
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 18, 2021
While the team lost their first-ever match, they didn't make it as easy as some expected.
Wolff said that the team did relatively well offensively, holding possession for 48% of the match and keeping a solid passing game. Once they got to the box, however, Wolff said they could use some work on creating scoring opportunities.
"We saw a lot of good connections, good spacing (and) good speed of passing," Wolff said. "I think we can obviously have more presence centrally to have more numbers in between lines. I just want us to create more chances. There's a lot on both sides of the ball that we still need to work on."
LA pulled some dramatics and slowly gained more possession throughout the half, but ATXFC's defense wasn't initially as shaky as it seemed in preseason. Later on, however, the team gave up some goals and seemed to struggle with endurance. Wolff said the backline did "okay" and that the club, including young center back Jhohan Romana, are still getting conditioned to play a full match.
"It's a lot of information for a young player," Wolff said. "I think as he fatigues then the decision making, as with most players, becomes a little bit more cloudy and then thus the execution becomes cloudy."
An honor to represent this city and y'all. We're just getting started. 💚🖤 pic.twitter.com/tmOqCfbXvs
— Austin FC (@AustinFC) April 18, 2021
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver had his work cut out for him, fending off 24 shot attempts, 11 of which were on goal.
Going into the match, Stuver and fellow goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell were neck-and-neck, with both labeled potential starters. However, it was Stuver, who many thought signed as a backup, that wore the goalkeeper's jersey on the field for the first time.
"I think both Andrew and Brad did relatively well in preseason, but we decided with Brad just based on how we felt preseason went," Wolff said. "I thought he performed pretty well to be honest. I think he and Andrew are similar in some aspects... it's being mindful of where their strengths and weaknesses are."
Five starters made their MLS debut in the match, including midfielder Daniel Pereira and forward Rodney Redes. While Wolff said Pereira held his own in the match, he saw a weak spot in the team's right side, making it difficult for Redes to make offensive plays.
"For Pereira, I think it was a solid day for a young kid coming in his first MLS game against that opponent," Wolff said. "Obviously there's there's a different physicality to MLS and I think those are things that all these guys are going to acclimatize to.
Now, the club looks to put the ball in the back of the net for the first time as they head to Colorado. Austin FC will face the Colorado Rapids at 8 p.m.on Saturday. The match will stream on the Austin FC app and be broadcast on the CW Austin. Austonia will keep an eye out for potential weekend watch parties.
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