Coach’s book serves as spiritual blueprint to help impact young people
Published 12:05 am Wednesday, February 22, 2017
LAPLACE — Like millions of spectators, Nakia “Nick” Mitchell pretty much knew what was going to happen as soon as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady got the ball in overtime against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51.
“I knew because of the way Tom Brady is,” said Mitchell, who has spent the last 20 years coaching high school football in and around the area. “As a coach, I knew that Matt Ryan was not going to pull that off.”
The LaPlace native also knows millions of fans on both sides were fervently praying for a desired outcome.
“In sports, there’s always prayers going on,” Mitchell said. “It’s mostly at a time when our team is winning by three and the other team’s got the ball, or our team is down by seven.”
The question is, “Does God Really Care About Football?”
According to Mitchell, the answer is yes, but not the way most people think.
“It’s a question that people have asked for a very long time,” Mitchell said. “We all ask it, but we don’t ask it in our lives.”
He spells out that premise in his newly self-published book “Does God Really Care About Football?” which he considers a sort of manual for young coaches impacting young lives through sports.
Mitchell, who was a standout baseball and football player at Destrehan High School, said he always wanted to be a writer. He also wanted to coach young people.
His coaching career has taken him through highs and lows, from winning seasons to devastating losses.
None was more devastating than the loss of a player.
Mitchell was an assistant coach at East St. John High in 2001 when one of the players drowned in a hotel swimming pool during a summer camp. Mitchell was close to the young man and had to help pull his body from the pool.
“It shook me to the core,” Mitchell said. “I got out of coaching for a year. I was selling insurance, selling cars. I was doing anything and everything I could to get my mind off of it.”
It was then when Mitchell first asked himself the question, wondering if he was truly making a difference in young people’s lives.
“There’s always going to be a bigger picture as coaches, especially when there are lives at stake,” Mitchell said. “Football, as a sport, was created to be a vehicle to shape lives. Because the fact that we have the privilege of doing it means that God cares about it and them enough to use it as a vehicle to help shape lives.”
Although he made a good living as a salesman, Mitchell said he wasn’t fulfilled and eventually returned to coaching. He was hired as the offensive line coach at L.B. Landry High School in New Orleans and bounced to Booker T. Washington, then East Ascension High School in Gonzales.
In 2012 he became the head coach at Southern Lab High School in Baton Rouge, with a solid, written out blueprint he believed would lead to the team’s success.
He ended up leading the team to the quarterfinals, semifinals and, in 2014, the Division IV finals.
“After that year, I went back and did some reflection,” Mitchell said. “I realized, all this stuff is happening, so I think I should start recording some of this. I went back over all those little things that happened over those three years and, sure enough, it was the blue print I had put on paper.”
Mitchell believes it was all about writing down his goals and seeing them come to fruition.
“It was really the power of writing things down,” he said. “When you write it down, you commit it to the universe. You call it into existence.”
Now Mitchell is sharing his blue print through his book.
“Does God Really Care About Football?” ($19.99, BookBaby) is available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.