Tim Mitchem vividly recalls the days when some of his heroes included the likes of NBA stars Michael Jordan or Shaquille O'Neill.
Lakeside High School wrestling star Tim Mitchem tried out for the basketball team twice before shifting his focus to wrestling. He says he loves it.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
He also remembers the gloom he experienced after failing to make the basketball team - twice - at Lakeside High School. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he shook it off and joined the school's wrestling team.
On March 31, he and his father, Emery Mitchem, flew from Atlanta to Cleveland for the Lakeside senior to participate in the 16th annual National High School Senior Nationals Wrestling Championships at the Cleveland Convention Center's Public Hall.
As the No. 1 high school wrestler in Georgia in his 130-pound weight class, Tim, 18, competed among the nation's premier high school seniors April 1-3, with a goal to become the nation's top 130-pound high school senior wrestler.
His mother, Naomi Mitchem, said she's proud that Tim has found success at something he really enjoys.
"I saw the disappointment on his face when he didn't make the basketball team. I kept telling him to stay positive and that God had another plan for him," Mrs. Mitchem said.
"He really wanted to be on that basketball team, but this was a life's lesson for him," she said. "I told him to keep on trying."
Tim said he enjoys wrestling much better than the roundball game.
"I gotten a chance to travel and I've met so many more friends. It's really helped me with my books. I've become more disciplined, when it comes to losing weight and staying focused. This is a one-on-one sport and there's no one else who can help you."
Mr. Mitchem credits Tim for maintaining his individuality even though he was the third-born of his four sons.
Older brother Christopher Mitchem, 22, plays football for West Georgia College in Carrollton and another brother, Travis Mitchem, 21, formerly played for Lakeside's football team.
Youngest brother E.J., 7, is popular with many of Tim's pals and is an aspiring wrestler, Mrs. Mitchem said.
To earn the No. 1 spot in the state, Tim had to oust wrestlers in his weight class who participated at Class-A, AA and AAAAA schools. Lakeside is a 4-A school. Tim's record before participating in the Cleveland meet is 47-2.
Mr. Mitchem said he's very proud of Tim.
"He's very disciplined. All of our boys are. It's just amazing how determined he is when he shoots for his goals. His brothers were a good influence," said Mr. Mitchem, who works as a configuration engineer at the Savannah River Site.
Tim, who is working at the Augusta National during the Masters Golf Tournament this week, competed well in the Cleveland tournament over the weekend but did not place, his mother said.
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