As Seen In: de Sales Sheet Magazine, Spring 2022 Edition
If you ask Bubby Mitchell about why wrestling is an important sport, he will have no shortage of words to describe the culture, the athletes, and the physical demands. The former professional MMA fighter has a passion that runs deep.
Mitchell is a member of the Mount de Sales wrestling coaching staff and the owner of Rush Macon, a mixed martial arts and fitness training facility. But to understand his attraction to the sport, we must go back to the beginning.
Mitchell began wrestling in late elementary school, and the effect it had on him was tremendous. “Wrestling gave me guidance as a kid, as a smaller athlete,” he said. It was this sport that gave him confidence and taught him self-discipline and self-worth. He learned about accountability—only he could answer for his wins and losses, practice routines, and goal weight. “It was a springboard. Wrestling gave me the guidance, and MMA gave me the direction on how to apply it to a career field,” said Mitchell.
After graduating from Westside High School in 2001, Mitchell attended college, but he ultimately left to pursue MMA full time. His career was impressive, even earning him an induction into the Georgia MMA Hall of Fame in 2013. It is important to note that he was a fellow fighter alongside another professional: 2001 MDS graduate Cole Miller. With more than 20 years of wrestling experience—16 of those coaching middle and high school programs—and 15 years of MMA experience, Mitchell has more than proven himself to be an expert on the mat.
Mitchell enjoys coaching athletes at all levels, but especially middle school ages. “If we catch them in middle school, we have the ability to plant the seed and really instill some passion in them, a love of the sport, and a can-do attitude.” He continued, “They are willing to take the risk of losing a lot. We can mold them and develop fortitude.”
Kirra, Mitchell’s daughter and sixth-grader at MDS, is a member of the wrestling team, boasting a 30-0 season record and a middle school state championship. Wrestling has the stigma of being just a boys’ sport. Girls, however, are a “dominant force at earlier ages.” Compared to boys, their muscle mass is the same at this stage of physical development and they mature faster, according to Mitchell.
It thrills Mitchell to see a young team grow in the sport, learn about acceptance and how to move forward from mistakes, and build a special camaraderie. To parents who may be unsettled by the thought of their child committing to a wrestling program, he said, “From the outside it looks out of control and very physical—it is very physical. It’s challenging.” The fact that it helps build confidence and mental toughness is key. “Put them in the middle of a mat with another person, and you will see a character develop in a kid unlike any other sport.”
Mitchell is particularly proud of all the wrestling athletes in both varsity and middle school. The younger wrestlers had heart and battled it out with competitors all year. The newest athletes made leaps and bounds in skill and development throughout the season. Senior leadership in high school from Elijah Batchelor and Reese Crews was commendable as they took the lead, dictated the tempo and vibe in practices. Accomplishments in both teams throughout the season were remarkable.
Mount de Sales has a strong wrestling program with a strong staff. Mitchell first coached at MDS from 2010 to 2014, before a stint at Tattnall. When seasoned head coach Carsten Franklin returned to Mount de Sales this year, it was time to bring back Mitchell to round out the talent and experience of the staff. All of them bring a high level of experience as coaches and former wrestlers. Coaches—Franklin, Mitchell, Austin Schaekel, Ben Knaus, Chandler Dean—actively demonstrate and help athletes improve. Mitchell proudly proclaimed, “We have the best coaching staff in Middle Georgia. The young bodies who can get on the mat and work and move with these kids.”
The wrestling program is one of the most successful sports at MDS, and if Mitchell has any more to say about it, it will continue to thrive, develop character in athletes, attract newcomers, and be a force for competitors.
About Mount de Sales Academy
Mount de Sales Academy, an independent Catholic school established in 1876 and sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy, is a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve. www.mountdesales.net