Coach Ryan Mitchell to return to district as volleyball assistant


Courtesy of Devon Messinger/Dragon Media

Ryan Mitchell coaches his Southlake Carroll players during the regional quarterfinal game versus Bryon Nelson in which the Dragons lost 3-1.

Alexis Russell, Staff Writer

Ryan Mitchell, former Leopard head volleyball coach, is returning to the district after spending four years as head coach at Southlake Carroll High School. Mitchell coached the teams that won five out of the six state championships in Leopard history in both 3A and 4A divisions.

“Lovejoy has always felt like home to both me and my family,” Mitchell said. “An opportunity to come back and do both leadership and volleyball in a community that I love and in a place I want to raise my kids in was a no-brainer decision for me.”

Head coach Jason Nicholson said he is excited to work with Mitchell, as the two have a great relationship.

“Obviously I was on board with this from the get-go,” Nicholson said. “To add the caliber of coaching that Coach Mitchell brings, plus the experience and success he has here is great for us.”

As assistant coach, Mitchell will primarily work with the varsity team and share the sideline with Nicholson.

“There is no doubt that being an assistant will be new to me and present challenges just like any new role someone takes,” Mitchell said. “I am looking forward to working alongside [Nicholson]. He has had a lot of success in his time there, and I am looking to not only learn from him but also complement him and his coaching to be a great team in 2018.”

Yet, as far as coaching styles go, there are some disparities, according to Nicholson.

“We’re both intense as far as our court demeanor and things of that nature go,” Nicholson said. “We do some things from a training standpoint a little bit different, as far as tempo of practice and things like that. I think we can really mold those together and do some things that will allow us to be a little bit more efficient in practice. He has a lot of strengths in areas where I am not super strong at, so I think that’s a huge piece for us.”

The duo has an impressive resume with a combined six state championships between the two.

“Everybody’s like ‘Aw man, you guys are going to be super successful with two coaches of that caliber on the bench,’” Nicholson said. “But we are fortunate at Lovejoy to have a lot of great athletes, and I think it comes down to that. Coach Mitchell and I together could be a phenomenal coaching staff, but it comes down to the kids and whether they get to the caliber of play they need to each season.”

Assistant athletic director Kyle Herrema said that he sees the new addition as a huge benefit for not only the athletic department, but for the district as a whole.

“One of [Mitchell’s] strengths is leadership development, so not only will he help the volleyball program, but he will help all athletic programs and anyone who is involved in leadership,” Herrema said.

Starting next year, Mitchell will also be the district-wide leadership coordinator for grades K-12.

“Leadership is a staple throughout the Lovejoy curriculum,” Mitchell said. “My job will be to take what is currently being done, evaluate its effectiveness, and then align the curriculum. Leadership and training is my love, and I am excited to be working in this avenue for a district that values teaching these skills to young men and women.”