On the Ball: Keeping it in the family
With the debut of Lower Sussex’s Pop Warner Football program, Paris Mitchell Sr. wasted no time giving back to the community where he lived and raised his family. He coached a young football team, and, as his children grew up through the program, they suited up and took to the field, as well.
His son Paris Mitchell Jr. and stepson Chris Megee even aided him on the sidelines, coaching Pop Warner with Mitchell Sr. and even helping coach their younger brother. Today, all three –Paris Sr., Paris Jr. and Megee – are leaving their impression on young athletes at Indian River High School, as head coaches across in athletic department.
By 2008, Mitchell Sr. had returned to Indian River’s coaching staff, after assisting former head football coach Jim Bunting on the varsity sidelines for six seasons, and he took over the position as head coach of the school’s varsity golf program.
Like father, like son, as Megee also helped out with an assistant coaching role on the Indians’ football team and in the spring of 2009, he took the reins as the Lady Indians’ varsity softball coach, leading the team to a 14-6 record and a playoff win.
One spring season later, Mitchell Jr. became the head coach of the Indians’ boys’ varsity tennis team and, for the third straight year, they’re all back at their respective sports, echoing that same Indian River pride.
“I’m really proud of them both,” said Mitchell Sr. “They’re doing a great job. Chris came into a tough spot with a young team. They’ve lost a number of one-run games, but he’s doing a great job with the team.”
Mitchells Sr. and Jr. have seen a little more success this spring season. Until this past Tuesday, when the Indian River golf team faced defending state champions from Caesar Rodney, the Indians were undefeated, and they still hold the top spot in the Southern Division of the Henlopen Conference.
Mitchell Jr. and the boys’ tennis team has also only lost one match this spring season – also to defending state champions from Caesar Rodney. As of earlier this week, though, the golf team and boys’ tennis teams at Indian River boasted a 6-1 and 9-1 record, respectively, with undefeated records in the Southern Henlopen Division.
“It’s something different when you have three people from the same family coaching three varsity teams at the same school,” noted Mitchell Sr. “I’m glad my boys found an interest in it. We have Sunday dinners just about every week throughout the school year, and we all razz each other a bit, but it’s a lot of fun to share that interest with your family.”
Mitchell’s narrative reminded me of the bond I share with my own father, one which now heavily weighs on weekly sport discussions. I, too, find myself calling him up to bust his chops over college basketball picks or pro football season potentials.
Sports have become a popular topic of discussion between us, which, unfortunately, wasn’t the case for most of my life. Even through middle- and high-school, I wasn’t much of a sports buff. Though I’d accompany my parents to University of Delaware football and basketball games, and sat in front of the television during March Madness or NFL Sunday, I didn’t possess the banter with him that I find myself dishing out today.
But my appreciation for nearly every sport has grown, immensely, and it has given my father and me another topic of discussion, another level to connect on, another excuse to ring each other up, whether analyzing the quarterback performance of former-Blue Hen Joe Flacco or discussing the coaching methods of college hoops names like Bobby Knight, John Calipari or Jim Boeheim. And although we may not see eye-to-eye on every topic, though we may not always be rooting on the same team, sports bring us together.