2012-13 All-County Basketball: North Rowan’s Mitchell boys coach of year
By Ronnie Gallagher
SPENCER — Want to know an amazing statistic about North Rowan boys coach Andrew Mitchell?
Despite a 139-17 record in five years of coaching high school basketball, the man has never been named Coach of the Year in his conference.
Not after a 29-0 record and a girls state title at Salisbury in 2010. Not after a boys state title with North in 2011.
He hasn’t had that problem when it comes to all-county. This year, after a 27-4 season at North, he has won his fourth Coach of the Year honor in five years.
This past season was all about motivation for Mitchell, whose team was never tested in the Yadkin Valley Conference.
It was left for Mitchell to test them.
“Even if we won by 40 — if we didn’t hit free throws and didn’t play hard and didn’t make two handed passes — we’d come back and run,” Mitchell said. “The thing I hate the most is that people thought we just had this talented group that didn’t work hard. We went hard in practice every day so they wouldn’t relax against anybody.”
In fact, they even had to go hard during the all-county photo shoot. Mitchell, a former Rowan County Player of the Year when he as at North, went up for a shot with all five of his all-county players surrounding him with arms up.
“That’s the only way they can stop me,” Mitchell joked.
It’s easy to see by the gleam in his eye that basketball has been his life. He remembers the days playing from sun-up to sundown.
“Our parents would have to come to the park or yell out the door to make us come home and eat,” he said.
He brought that attitude to North and it’s paying off. After a loss to Winston-Salem Prep in the Western Regional, he saw his players in the gym playing pick-up.
“They were working on their game, preparing themselves for the college level,” Mitchell said. “The younger guys were asking, ‘When do we get started?’ If you’re going to be good, you have to do that. I’m very appreciative. In a sense, they’re all old school.”
After years of coaching at Livingstone College, Mitchell is enjoying the high school life.
“You get to spend more time with the family,” he said. “And when we get them at this level, we can make a difference.”
Mitchell doesn’t worry about Coach of the Year awards or recognition.
“As long as the kids get it, that’s what matters to me,” Mitchell said.
As all coaches, Mitchell puts in the time. He figures he makes about $3 an hour. But that’s OK.
“We’ll take two weeks off and be right back in the gym,” he smiled. “I won’t get a break until the end of next season.”
That’s what Mitchell loves about North Rowan basketball. His kids are just like he used to be.
“Some kids choose to do other things in the summer,” he said. “We choose to play basketball.”
And it’s those players who have made sure he is appreciated as an annual county coach of the year.