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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : sports : local May 24, 2016

7/25/2013 2:26:00 PM
Mitchell to work from behind the scenes to ensure Mingus athletics continues tradition of excellence
Assistant principal, dean of students and athletic director Allen Mitchell. VVN/John Hutchinson
Assistant principal, dean of students and athletic director Allen Mitchell.

VVN/John Hutchinson

Travis Guy
Sports Reporter

Now entering his 18th year working in high schools, fifth year assistant principal Allen Mitchell has added a new cap to his repertoire, athletic director.

According to Mitchell, following the resignation of former athletic director Mark Owens, who is still at Mingus as the boy's basketball coach, and a teacher, no one was jumping at the opportunity to take on the athletic director position, so he applied for the position, adding it to his already full plate.

"I said 'I will do this no matter what. The position will get done, and the job will get taken care of,'" Mitchell said. "Whether they actually think its going to be a long-term position or not, I don't know. I hope so. I don't plan on leaving and I don't plan on giving it up."

As soon as Mitchell took over the job, there were two vacancies that needed to be filled. The first was the boys tennis head coaching position and the second was the wrestling coach position. Luckily for the new AD, Owens had already been working on securing a tennis coach, and Mitchell began working with the boys basketball coach to fill the opening. Together, they found a new boys tennis coach, the second in the past three years, and Mitchell has made finding a new wrestling coach, the third since the resignation of Tom Wokasch, one of his top priorities. Admittedly, the turnover is something different for Mingus Union, despite it being normal at other high schools.

"Yes it is, in high schools, no it is not, generally, in this high school," Mitchell said. "Most of our coaches stick around. They are pretty dedicated to this school and to our athletes and to this community. There's not a very large turnover, at least I don't think so. The years that I've been here, there really hasn't been a big turnover of staff, like there has been in some other schools. From that stand point, this is easy, in the fact that, there's only a couple positions.

"Mark was working on both of those before he left, so there's not a big gap there. The wrestling position is something we want to get going as soon as possible, as always, I would like to have one of our staff members fill the position, I don't know if that's going to happen or not, that's always a goal, but we'll find someone to get the program going and somebody that can be there as quickly as possible."

One thing Mitchell is bringing to the job is the way he views his new position. He sees the AD position as the manager of a business, something he has done before in the past. Along with his outlook of the job, he will be carrying over the same approach to interacting with students that he uses as the assistant principal and dean of students. While Mitchell will be bringing in that approach with the student-athletes, he confessed that he is not completely sure how, if at all, that will change when he is dealing with the athletes.

"The assistant principal and dean of students, that will never change. That approach has always been the same from day one. I look at it, I don't care who you are, I'm just fair across the board, I'm consistent and I guess I'm going to take that same approach into athletics. It just gives me a chance to see kids from a different angle. I don't know, I'll find out when I meet those kids and what their needs are. If there's something I can help a student athlete with, I'll do whatever I can. I don't know how that's going to play out yet, I don't know yet, I really don't. The approach wont be any different, I guess is what I'm trying to say. I just take every kid at face value and whatever needs to be taken care of or needs to be done for them, we'll do that"

As for any changes that Mitchell is thinking of instituting, he said that for now, he wants to let things run how they have been, so Mingus athletics can continue its tradition of winning. But he also said that if the time does arise, whether it be in the near-future, or somewhere much farther down the line, he will evaluate it then.

"I'm not going to make a whole lot of changes. I don't plan on doing anything a lot different; I'm going to say kind of right now, it's the status quo," Mitchell said. "I like to say that I'm going to look at things from a different perspective, because as an administrator, I've always been so involved and so busy doing other things, now I get a chance to see athletics form a different perspective. I'll look at it, and if I think there needs to be changes down the road, or something comes up, where we need changes right now, we'll do those things, but right now, its just kind of, lets get the season under way."

To go along with keeping the athletics department the same, Mitchell already has a plan in place for how he will interact with his coaches and their programs; "get out of the way."

"I'm very confident in our staff, as coaches. There is a long tradition of Mingus doing excellent. We also have very strong academics here. My goal is not to interfere and let programs run," Mitchell said. "What they have done in the past, they will do. I don't think there's anything I can, right now, just walking in here, I cant say, 'you have to start doing this, or take that direction, because its going to make you better.' I don't think that's my position, right at this point. I'm just going to try not to interfere and get in anyone's way, and we'll try and look at it as a whole, and I'll talk to my coaches. 'Where do you think we can improve your program, what can I do to help make your program better?'

"I guess, my approach is, we have good staff, we have great coaches, we have committed parents [and] we have a community behind us. All these things is what helps make us what we are, and my job is to make sure that doesn't fall apart, and if there's something that needs to be enhanced, or they need some help doing something, that's where I need to find out and do everything I can to help make sure that becomes successful. It's a good program that's going well, again, I guess I want to go back and say, don't get in the way, don't screw it up, and I'll do everything I can to make sure it doesn't."

Mitchell is not the only new administrator at Mingus Union. He is joined by two other new administrators; new principal Jennifer Chilton and superintendent Dr. Paul Tighe, who are taking over for an administration that was a little bit more hands on than most administrations. The new AD said that while he may not have the same hands on approach the previous administration had, he will be there, behind the scenes, making sure everything goes smoothly. That does not mean he will not have a presence at the Marauders' sporting events. He has already informed his wife they will be traveling to every football game, even the away games, and is going to attempt to be at as many other sports' away games as possible.

"We will be a presence at all them," Mitchell said. "Directly hands on? I don't know that I'm going to be, how hands on, I'm more of a person who will say 'take responsibility for your own sport,' looking at the coaches, and 'whatever you need to do your job, let me know and ill see that you have it, so you can do your job.' But a presence, yes you're going to see me at all of them. My plan already, I told my wife, 'we're going to be traveling to every away football game that there is,' and I will go to as many other away sports as I possibly can. Everything local here in town, our swim meets, our golf matches, plan on having those, they are already on my calendar, I'll be there, I'll be out and about."

Mitchell began working with high school students and athletes in 1995. He received his degree from San Diego State University, and is a certified athletic trainer. Growing up in a small town, with a high school that did not have the same luxuries that other high school athletics did, especially with regards to medical care, Mitchell experienced what it was like with out a training staff. That is how he ended up working at Marana High School. Now he will be an athletic director for the first time in his almost two-decade long career

"It's just something I just always wanted to do. I like athletics, I've been involved with athletics almost all my life," Mitchell said.

Taylor Waste

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