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Ex Panther recruiting local talent for his mat

Posted: December 28, 2014 - 12:10am  |  Updated: January 2, 2015 - 9:27am

The best wrestler at the Evans Black and Gold Traditional meet last Saturday didn’t take a turn on the mat.

Sitting quietly in the stands observing the action was Tim Mitchem, former Lakeside High School standout. Mitchem, who won the Class AAAA State Traditonal title at 135 pounds in 2005, recently finished his transition from wrestler to college head coach.

After graduating from Lakeside, Mitchem went on to the University of the Cumberlands, earning All-America status with a seventh-place finish at 141 pounds at the NAIA National Tournament in 2010.

After stints as an assistant coach with Shorter University (Rome, Ga.) and Campbellsville University (Campbellsville, Ky.), Mitchem assumed the reins of the Brewton-Parker (Mount Vernon, Ga.) program this year.

He found being the head man is a lot different than being one of the wrestlers or even being an assistant coach.

He called it like being on the outside looking in. There are plenty of things he’s adjusting to as a head coach, the least of which come on the mat – especially at a small school.

“I always thought we just packed up the van and went to the tournaments,” Mitchem said. “There’s a lot of paperwork, a lot of (purchase orders). You’ve got to know how much money you’re going to spend that weekend, you’ve got to call the hotels, you’ve got to
call the coaches and tell
them who’s going, you’ve
got to put that paperwork in.”

Mitchem just finished driving the team van 10 hours for a two-day tournament then 10 hours back.

After helming the wheel for countless trips during my time at Bowie State, his remark about the driving sounded familiar.

“It’s crazy, guys are asleep while you’re by yourself, basically,” Mitchem said.

He started wrestling as a high school freshman at 103 pounds and finished college at the aforementioned 141 pounds. At least while he’s coaching he gets to stay in shape being active with his sport.

“I still like getting out there and getting to tussle myself,” Mitchem said. “It’s like a free membership to a workout place.”

His trip to the area was a combination of returning home for a visit and recruiting trip.

“It’s just getting back and seeing these guys and hopefully bring some of them in next year,” Mitchem said.

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