Bobby Mitchell to lead UBCO women’s basketball

After serving the past season as the interim head coach of the UBC Okanagan women’s basketball team, Bobby Mitchell has been named the continuing full time head coach of the Heat effective immediately.

“This begins a new chapter,” UBC Okanagan’s Director, Athletics and Recreation, Tom Huisman stated in his announcement to remove the interim tag Thursday morning.

“I am very excited for the future of the program and confident that we have the coaching leadership in place to complement and maximize the opportunity we have to build a women’s basketball program that can complement the academic reputation of UBC’s Okanagan campus.”

The news couldn’t come at a better time for Mitchell as he is currently at the BC Secondary School Girls AAA provincial championships recruiting the top players in the province alongside other university coaches at the event.

Named interim head coach at late last summer, Mitchell will continue his head coaching duties after working his way up the bench from an assistant in 2013, to lead assistant in 2015, and now as head coach in 2019.

Strong Okanagan ties, a sense of community, and a life of basketball made Mitchell the right choice to continue his role as the head of the young Heat women’s basketball program.

“I am very excited to continue with the program and coaching in the Okanagan community,” Mitchell said. “UBCO and the Heat women’s basketball program has special meaning to me and to be given the opportunity to build something special is unique and I am very grateful for that chance. I want to thank Tom Huisman, UBCO Athletic Director, for this opportunity and I am extremely thankful for all the support I have had over the years, a lot of people supported me helped this happen.”

With no chance of bringing in players for his interim year, Mitchell was able to achieve a lot with his squad in 2018-19 as the effervescent coach ended an extended losing streak, tirelessly worked on adding talent and has signed a half dozen new players, all prior to the end of the high school basketball season.

A major coup for Mitchell, and one that showcases his focus on building a strong culture within the program is the recent announcement of Jordan Korol as the Sylvia Sweeny Award winner for community spirit exhibited by a student-athlete.

The Sweeney award is a major Canada West award handed out right before the conference championships. The award recognizes the conference’s student-athletes who best excels in three key areas: basketball, academics, and community involvement.

Since joining Canada West in 2011-12 UBCO has never had a student-athlete earn any major conference award.

Tireless and community-oriented can also be used to describe Mitchell’s year-round approach to basketball. More specifically, Mitchell continues to lead the girls Junior Heat Club basketball program developing basketball and basketball players in the Okanagan.

With a hands-on approach, Mitchell guides all levels of the Junior Heat program while maintaining his role as head coach of the U17 PEBL Junior Heat club team while serving as head coach of the varsity team for a full season.

Mitchell has been coaching female basketball in the Okanagan since 2003. He led the Vernon Secondary senior girls’ team to nine consecutive AA Provincial Championship appearances and multiple Okanagan Valley Championships.

Addressing a need for a competitive environment and opportunity for female players across the Okanagan, Mitchell founded the Okanagan Storm Women’s U17 Club program in 2004. The program’s mandate was to assist female players across the Okanagan who aspired to pursue their basketball careers at the college and university levels.

The Heat, identifying the same competitive need in the central Okanagan tapped Mitchell to lead the inaugural UBCO women’s U17 Junior Heat club team in 2012. Three summers later he became program coordinator for the all Junior Heat female programs and has been instrumental in the growth and success of the program.  Last summer, his U17 PEBL team finished third at the club national championships.

With development a priority and community in his DNA, there is a reason to look forward to the future of women’s basketball at UBC Okanagan.

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