By Joanie Berkery and Linda Pagano, Bronxville PTA Athletic Council members
Oct. 9, 2019: The Bronxville School is pleased to announce that the new track will be named the "James Owen Mitchell Track." The Bronxville School and athletic community honor "Mitch" for his 41 years of coaching the girls cross country, indoor track and field, and outdoor track and field teams, and for the success and accomplishments of these athletes and teams. The dedication ceremony will take place on October 12th during halftime at the homecoming football game. The game will take place on Chambers Field, starting at 6pm.
Jim Mitchell started coaching at the Bronxville School in the spring of 1979. At that time, young women were just starting to be encouraged and assisted in the pursuit of amateur athletic activities. In fact, before President Carter signed the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, women were prohibited from participating in some running events. Coach Mitchell introduced the first girls cross country program in Bronxville and, in doing so, enabled his athletes to pursue these new avenues.
Coach Mitch (B&W) in the beginning. Photo courtesy of the Bronxville School
Coach Mitchell's female athletes and teams received impressive and abundant accolades. He coached 57 girls who earned 170 All-American honors and 14 girls who were named Con Edison Scholar-Athletes. His teams won 41 consecutive League Championships and 37 Section 1 Titles for Outdoor Track and Field; 39 consecutive League Championships and 33 Section 1 Titles for Indoor Track and Field; and 38 consecutive League Championships, 30 Section 1 Titles, and 12 State Championships for cross country. Five relay teams won National Championships, one with a national record-setting time.
In 2007, Coach Mitchell was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame, and in 2013 into the New York State Public High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Coach Mitch (with trophies) at a Cross Country Event. Photo by Charlotte Rizzo
The league titles, section titles and state championships that followed were numerous. What is equally remarkable is the number of runners who went on to compete collegiately.
Coach Mitchell was far more than a coach. He instilled in his athletes a love for running and competing and served as a beloved mentor. Karen Peterson, Bronxville's Athletic Director, has great admiration for Coach Mitchell.
"I have had the pleasure of watching Mitch coach for the last 22 years. You will hear a lot about all of his championships, but what has always amazed me is that he made every runner feel special. He found a way for them to play a meaningful role on the team while they improved individually. His runners learned invaluable life lessons through running. This is such a well-deserved recognition."
Jim Agnello, who has been Bronxville's boys' varsity cross country coach for the past 20 years, described the honoree.
"Jim Mitchell is the epitome of a selfless coach, colleague, and friend. He is a family man taking car rides with his wife JoAnn on Sundays after coaching six days a week for 51 years and raising his successful adult children Dana and Chris. He has served as a surrogate parent for thousands of athletes over the years, all of them affectionately calling him 'Mitch' or a demonstrative 'Mitchell.' They simply love him."
Coach Agnello went on to say, "My most sincere thank you for being a superior role model for thousands of athletes and hundreds of coaches. You will be missed greatly. Your impact will continue for years to come."
Coach "Mitch" with Runners (L to R) Katie Ryan, Delia Hayes, Mr. Jim Mitchell, Charlotte Rizzo and Courtney Campbell; photo by by Charlotte Rizzo
Coach Mitchell is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. and attended Regis High School and Fordham University. He coached the boys track team at Fordham from 1972-1978 and came to Bronxville High School in 1978 as a Latin teacher. The following year, he began a coaching career that would span over forty years. Coach Mitchell has been supported all of these years and seasons by his wife of 47 years, JoAnn, and his children Christopher and Dana, a Captain in the Marines.
In honor of all "Mitch" has accomplished and the number of athletes that have been impacted by his coaching, the Board of Education proclaimed on April 23, 2019, that the new Bronxville School track would be named the "James Owen Mitchell Track."
We congratulate Coach Mitchell on all of his accomplishments and take this opportunity to express our gratitude for his years of dedication and teaching.
Photo at top: Coach Mitch at his induction into the Hall of Fame in 2007
Photo by Charlotte Rizzo
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