Mitchell made a big impact|Former Pam Pack coach, athletic director heading into Walk of Fame

Published 7:59 pm Friday, September 25, 2009

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
Bing Mitchell personifies the very essence of “coach.”
Mitchell started walking the sidelines as a head coach at Bath High School in 1972. His coaching career, which includes stints at Bertie, Northside and Washington, includes over 120 wins, a trip to the state championship game with the Northside Panthers in 2000 and an appearance as an assistant coach in the East-West All-Star game.
But Mitchell, who will be inducted into Washington High School’s Walk of Fame as a former coach and athletic director during tonight’s game, is much more than a coach. He is respected by his peers, and looked upon as a father-figure by several former players.
“To me personally, he was my high school coach my last two years,” said Walt Davis, a former coach at Northside and now head football coach at South Central High School. “I’m in the (coaching) business because of him. I looked at him as a father figure, and then he became my best friend.
“He personifies what a coach is. I never saw him not handle something with the utmost quality of life and respect for the people and the children he was working with. He carries himself to the highest degree. I think everybody who worked with him and played for him understand that.”
Mitchell said he feels “honored” to be inducted into the Walk of Fame. He has several fond memories from his time with the Pam Pack.
“Looking back, I had a lot of great teams and players over the years,” Mitchell said. “(The) 1982 (season) was a great year for this championship team. That team was filled with special coaches, people and players. It made my time at Washington very special.
“Our players worked hard and spent time, with great attitudes that every coach desires, to help build Washington football. The pride the players had in wanting to be a good football team made us a championship team. Many years throughout my career at Washington were great ones I will never forget.”
While Mitchell walked the sidelines with a positive attitude and a calm demeanor, those attributes are coming into play again now.
Mitchell is currently battling a brain tumor that has kept him off the sidelines this year.
Mitchell said he’s fighting his battle “day to day with the support and prayers of my family and friends.”
His wife, Brenda, and children, Kevin and Keith Mitchell, have been there every step of the way.
“Brenda is my backbone,” Mitchell said. “She is very supportive of me. She has been very strong and helpful to me during my coaching days and now in my tough days.
“(Kevin and Keith) are very special and are my life. Kevin is the assistant baseball coach at (J.H.) Rose High School and Keith is assistant principal at John Small. I’m proud they are both in education. I am thankful for their families and my four grandchildren, Dawson (4), Taylor (4), Wayland (2) and Caroline (9 months).”
Kevin and Keith have equal admiration and respect for their father.
“Our dad has not only given 110 percent at being a teacher and coach, but also at being a great dad,” Kevin Mitchell said. “As we spent many afternoons with him on and off the football field growing up, we have seen him mean a great deal to a lot of players and coaches. He did things the right way all the time, and he instilled that in his players.
“He genuinely cared for all his players, then and now. He was willing to help each player he came across on and off the field. It is a great honor for not only him, but us to see him receive this award. Thank you to all his former players, coaches and colleagues for giving him this opportunity.”
Davis, a longtime friend and co-coach, is thrilled that Mitchell is being inducted into the Walk of Fame.
“It’s an honor that is very deserving of him,” said Davis, who has known Mitchell for 28 years. “It’s something that he has worked hard for, not necessarily to get in the Walk of Fame, but worked hard to do a good job.
“He does everything first class. I’m pleased that he is being rewarded for this.”
Mitchell said getting to coach with his friend at South Central was a joy.
“It was a special time,” Mitchell said. “We were not only coaches, but great friends. I was able to form great relationships in my coaching career, but Walt was a great player/coach that I have been able to spend a lot of time with. It means a lot to me that I finished my career with him.”
Mitchell, a resident of Washington who said he now enjoys retirement and spending time with his family and friends, started coaching the Pam Pack in 1980. The first year with players such as Seth Edwards, William Tuten, Graham Toler, Mike Elks, David Tyson, Fred Stowe, William O’Pharrow and Donald McPhail, the Pack finished 1-9 that season.
Mitchell guided Washington to two more wins the following season, going 3-7 in 1981.
Washington had its best year under Mitchell in 1982, going 9-1 and sharing the Northeastern Conference championship with Bertie and Tarboro.
Mitchell guided the Pack to another winning record in 1983 at 6-4. In his final three seasons with Washington, the Pack finished 3-7 in 1984, 4-6 in 1985 and 2-8 in 1986.
Mitchell was also hired as Washington’s athletic director in 1980.
He returned to that position for one year in 2006, before joining his close friend, Davis, as an assistant on the South Central coaching staff.
Prior to that, Mitchell was the head coach at Northside High School, compiling a 52-45 record. He coached such players as former East Carolina standout C.J. Wilson, Derrick Leather, Terrance Davis, Jacob Wilson, Thomas Spruill, M.J. Mackey and Milton Smith.
C.J. Wilson is still thankful for everything Mitchell did for him.
“He means a lot to me,” Wilson said. “I’m glad he was my coach and he really prepared me for college. He was stern and encouraging and he got me physically strong. He helped make me the person I am today.
“It means a lot (that he’s going into the Walk of Fame). He always did a great job. I’m glad to see him getting inducted.”
Mitchell, who caused havoc for opposing defenses with his tricky offensive schemes, guided the Panthers to 7-3 records in 1998 and 1999. His most successful season came in 2000, leading Northside to a 13-2 record and a trip to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Class 1-A state championship game. Northside fell 31-6 to Graham in the state championship game.
His team had another successful run in 2004 when the Panthers finished 12-3.
Northside head coach Keith Boyd, who was an assistant under Mitchell before taking over the head coaching duties in 2006, said he learned plenty under Mitchell.
“I learned a lot of football under him,” Boyd said. “More than anything, I just remember the times we had, all the hours we put in together and the rewards we earned because of it. We did a lot of stuff together off the football field as well and really developed a bond.
“I think it’s wonderful he’s getting into the Walk of Fame. It’s a well-deserved accolade. If anyone deserves it, he does.”
Mitchell retired as a head coach after the 2005 season, a coaching career that started in 1972 with Bath. He went 17-12 in three years at Bath, followed by a 27-22-1 record in five seasons at Bertie.
Mitchell was a three-sport start at Bertie, excelling in football, basketball and baseball. He then graduated from East Carolina in 1968, and is still a devoted fan of the Pirates.
Not long after graduation, Mitchell started his coaching career. Along with his regular coaching duties, Mitchell was also instrumental in putting on the yearly OBX Football Clinic, where high school and college coaches share their expertise on various topics.
Mitchell knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a successful coach.
(Coaching) was my life, besides my family,” Mitchell said. “The relationships with former coaches and players has meant more to me than anything.
“(Being a good coach takes) hard work and dedication. Time is important, with the X’s and O’s and with your players and coaches.”
He also knows what it takes to be a successful football player.
“It takes a great deal of dedication, during the season and especially in the off-season getting strong and getting your body in good physical shape,” Mitchell said.
Football coaches spend countless hours in meetings, the practice field and playing field. Trying to balance a home life with being a head coach is no easy task.
“You have to be able to balance your time,” Mitchell said. “In all relationships, whether with your coaching staff, players or family, you have to give 100 percent. Coaches’ wives are very special. They give a lot of their time.
“You have to spend time with your children and be involved in all they do.”
Mitchell has touched many lives, and not just players themselves. Sam Crawford, who is a Walk of Fame inductee, was a manager for Mitchell while he was at Washington.
One of Crawford’s dreams was to dress out for a game with his football team. Mitchell made that dream a reality.
“That was really exciting; that was a lot of fun,” Crawford said prior to being inducted into the Walk of Fame in 2004. “I got to dress out with the boys, and everybody on the team was tickled to death. I went out there with my whole uniform on. Well, I didn’t have cleats, but I had tennis shoes. I did the exercises with them, and it really made coach Mitchell feel good to see me dress out.”
That’s just one small example of the type of coach and the type of person Mitchell is, then and now.
“Through my coaching career and maturing as a coach and person, you realize what’s important,” Mitchell said. “I always enjoyed going to practice, watching film, studying the game and Friday nights.”
Mitchell has earned plenty of respect throughout his life, both as a father and as a coach. He cherishes both roles.
“In life (I’m most proud of) my two sons,” Mitchell said. “In coaching, it would be the relationships I have developed with my players.
“Twenty years ago I didn’t realize what that would mean to me now. In football, we might not win every game, but setting good examples and teaching players how to be good citizens means a lot in life. I think we did that as a coaching staff.”
Mitchell is a great coach, but so much more. This devoted husband, father and grandfather was an choice for inclusion into the Walk of Fame.
Bing Mitchell
Coaching History
At Bath (17-12)
1972 5-4-0
1973 6-4-0
1974 6-4-0
At Bertie (27-22-1)
1975 0-10-0
1976 5-5-0
1977 7-3-0
1978 8-1-1
1979 7-3-0
At Washington (28-42-0)
1980 1-9-0
1981 3-7-0
1982 9-1-0
1983 6-4-0
1984 3-7-0
1985 4-6-0
1986 2-8-0
At Northside (52-45-0)
1998 7-3-0
1999 7-3-0
2000 13-2
2001 3-9-0
2002 0-11-0
2003 5-7-0
2004 12-3-0
2005 5-7-0
TOTAL: 124-121-1