We Remember the Life of Coach Tom Mitchell

Coach Tom MitchellAnyone who cares about Brother Rice would be hard pressed to find anyone in the school’s history who cared more than Tom Mitchell about how to make a young man feel better about himself, by learning what it takes to become a good man.  If you were struggling to find your way and Tom saw this, he would be your champion. It did not matter if you were one of his players; if Tom was asked to help, he would talk to you or anyone else in your circle of family or friends to help you figure out how to solve your problems. If you were one of Coach Mitchell’s players or assistants, you know that no one worked harder at analyzing film and preparing a game plan. No opponents wanted Tom’s teams at the end of the season, when he had that much more film to see information with which to prepare.

Coach Mitchell’s wake will be held at Brother Rice on Wednesday, January 30, from 2:00-9:00 P.M. in the main gym with an ongoing reception in the north gym.  The funeral mass will be at Most Holy Redeemer at 10:30 A.M. on Thursday, January 31.  Friends and family are asked to assemble for the funeral mass at Most Holy Redeemer; the interment will be private.

Before we express our tribute, one that could never adequately express Tom’s impact on Brother Rice alumni and those who worked with him, we begin with some statistics about his coaching career.Tom MItchell Coach Coach Mitchell was only 24 in 1965 when he began at Brother Rice as an assistant football coach and teacher, becoming the head varsity coach two years later, completing the school’s first decade of varsity football as a top tier team in a Chicago Catholic League with opposing schools that were 30–50 years older.  During those first five years as a Brother Rice football coach, the Crusaders made five trips to Soldier Field for the CCL semi-final playoffs, three with Tom as head coach, when the teams who made that final four were considered the best in the state of Illinois.  Coach’s 1975 and 1980 teams went on to win the Prep Bowl, and his 1981 team won the IHSA 6A Championship, followed by a 1985 6A runner-up finish when 6A was the largest school classification. Tom is a member of the Illinois High School Coaches Hall of Fame, the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame, and the CCL Hall of Fame.  In 1976, Tom became the youngest member of the inaugural class of the Brother Rice High School Hall of Fame, and in 1998 became the first graduate of another high school to be inducted into the Brother Rice Alumni Hall of Fame as an Honorary Alumnus.  Tom won 176 games during his tenure as head coach, without a hint of compromised principles or a trace of lost perspective. More than can be published here can be said and written about husband-father-teacher-coach-counselor-champion of the underdog Tom Mitchell, but let’s begin what we expect will become a growing list of posted testimonials and tributes.  We ask that you email your tributes to Mitch to Jim Casey at jcasey@brrice.org.  Please be sure to identify yourself and your relationship to Tom, and let Jim know if you wish your name to be included in your tribute, which we will post on our website.  Here are a few just to get started: One alumnus said, “Five years ago a mom of a Rice grad in his thirties called me at my home and asked if I could ask Tom Mitchell to call her son, who was depressed.  When I called Tom, he did not hesitate to ask for the man’s phone number.”

A teacher said, “I remember teaching a freshman who had Tom as his counselor, and I told him there was something bothering the kid.  Tom wasted no time talking to the kid and soon learned the kid was having trouble with his father.  Whatever Tom said to the father and son turned out to be a life-changing experience for both of them, as both became better men for the rest of their lives.”

Current Head Varsity Football Coach Brian Badke ’92 added the following:  “I came back to Brother Rice because of Coach Mitchell. I’m honored and very proud to carry on the tradition that Coach Mitchell established for the Brother Rice Football program. He was an inspiration for everyone he touched; he always had time to talk to you and give you his full attention.  Coach Mitch was not only a great teacher/coach but, more importantly, a great man.  Coach Mitchell will be sorely missed by the entire Southside community.  He was an outstanding example of a Christian man in every aspect of life.   We are all better for having a man of this caliber in our lives and for all those he has touched  through his warm spirit of  friendship, genuine concern for others, and humility.” “I remember what Coach Mitchell vividly said to me during our playoff game vs. Homewood Flossmoor back in the 1991 season.  There was a wide receiver who was really playing well against me and, after one play on our sidelines, Coach said, ‘don’t screw this up for us.’ From that point forward, I made a few plays and knocked the ball down in the end zone to clinch the game, and Coach came up to me after the game and said, ‘you didn’t screw up, Brian.’  He was a man of very few words, but when he spoke, he had your attention… “

In an article on CSN Chicago last Wednesday, Board Member and Circle of Champions inductee Mark Donahue ’74 said this about a recent reunion with players and Coach Mitchell:  “We were reminded of how great a coach and man Tom was,” Donahue said. “It speaks volumes about a coach when former players reunite, hug, and tell stories as if they had played together just yesterday. Coach was one of those guys who had the ability and cared enough to teach, coach, and mentor many of us. What a special, special person. I am deeply grateful for having had Tom Mitchell as my coach.”

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From Coach Tim Lyons ’92:  “It was an honor and privilege to play for Coach Mitch. Coach Mitch taught us about being good men and leaders first always. My teammates and I were honored to play for a man we would call our hero. I will never forget the experience of playing in the school’s first home playoff game on Coach Joe Johnston Field in 1991. Coach Mitchell’s vision created a stadium and playing surface on 99th and Pulaski for generations to come. Thanks, Coach. It was and always will be an honor to have played for you.”

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Brother Rice Vice President Mike McShane ’87 played for Coach Mitchell and said, “What made Coach Mitchell so special was his genuine care for all young men that he taught, coached, and mentored.  Coach Mitchell made a significant impact on the lives of all he knew.  The lesson he taught all of us is what it meant to be a good man, putting others first, and living life the right way.  I never wanted to let Coach Mitchell down.”

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From Brother Rice President Dr. Kevin Burns:  “Tom Mitchell was not only the face of Brother Rice, it’s guys like him who are the heart and soul of what Brother Rice is about.  He was a special friend and mentor to many of us, myself included, and will be deeply missed by the Brother Rice community.”

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From PE Chair and former assistant coach Bob Twardy ’65:  “Tom Mitchell, a man who really cared about the Brother Rice students, was at the school day and night, all year round.  He taught kids respect, discipline and how to work hard, on and off the field.  He was truly a Man of Edmund Rice, and I was blessed to have coached with him for 11 years, and to have served with him as a fellow teacher for 20 years. Tom, you will be missed.”

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From former assistant coach and longtime friend, John Langan:  “I’ll never forget the night we honored Tom upon his retirement.  The Lexington House was filled, and Tom stood in a long reception line, and we produced a nice video, and presented him with the keys to a new car, but what stands out the most is what his son Tim said on stage. ‘We are presented with many role models in our lives, and the media builds them up and then a few let us down, but my brother and I have only one role model, our Dad, and he will never let us down.” “Tom believed very strongly in the growth benefits that football provided for a teenage male as he grows from a boy to a man  - the discipline, the fact that he had to push himself usually harder than he ever had before, the fact that he shared this work ethic with his teammates. the bonding that took place with his teammates. That bonding between coaches and players from the early years still exists today with most of them. These former players, who I am proud to be able to call my friends, are now in their 50′s and 60′s and they still stay in touch with each other and often do things together. Everyone is a solid person with strong character. I believe Tom Mitchell is a significant reason for that. Nobody took a more personal interest in his players than Tom. “On a lighter note. Tom was famous among the referees for always creeping out on the field. This often interfered with the sideline officials being able to do their job. They would back him up. He’d move back and 2 plays later he’d be out there again. So the officials would go to their bosses either Frank Strocchia or Tom Quinn and say let me throw a flag on him. So Strocchia and Quinn would tell the officials they would talk to Tom because they respected him and liked him so much. They asked the officials to be a little tolerant. When Strocchia or Quinn would call Tom, Mitch would ask if  they were aware of the unwritten rule in the Catholic League that for each year you are a head coach, you are allowed one more step onto the field.”

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Former assistant to Tom, Coach Bill Gleeson said, “If you’re fortunate to have known Coach Mitchell you are a better person for it.  He had all the qualities that describe great people – honesty, integrity, passion, unselfishness, drive, love for family, love of people.  If there were more Tom Mitchells in the world, in public service, in education, there would be fewer problems in society, without a doubt!”

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From “Klutch ’82”: Coach Mitch was a mentor, father-figure, counselor, and friend to anyone he came in contact with. Along with my father, he is why I wanted to coach. I had the pleasure of playing for him and then coaching with him and he never lost sight of what high school sports are all about. He epitomizes our motto ‘Act Manfully in Christ Jesus’. Coach Mitch is Brother Rice, always will be Brother Rice, and I will never, ever forget him!”

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From former player and coach, Coach Marty Grogan ’73:  “Tom Mitchell has impacted my life in so many ways as a Student, Player, Colleague and Coach. The first impression that Tom Mitchell demonstrated to me was the love and compassion he openly displayed to his sons as he regularly hugged and kissed his young boys, Timmy and Tommy. And now when I talk to Tim and Tom I feel the presence of Coach Mitchell.  Tim and Tom are truly blessed as they are the results of the love and compassion that Coach Tom Mitchell radiated to everyone.  Rest in Peace, Tom Mitchell, a life well done.”

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From Peter Bella ’71:  “I was very saddened to learn of Coach Tom’s going home to God. Very few people have an impact on your life and he was one who did. He was one of my teachers. Mr. Mitchell was a role model to many of us at a time of great social change and upheaval. He was never judgmental- unless you misbehaved. I graduated from Brother Rice in 1971. In 1978, while in the last phases of training for the Chicago Police Department I ran into Coach Mitchell. I had not seen him since I graduated. He saw me first, recognized me, walked up to me, patted me on the back and told me he was proud of me. I would see him from time to time at events in the city and it was always the same. He would walk over, say hello, talk, and say he was proud. Coach Mitchell’s passing is a great loss and he will be sorely missed. Studs Terkel’s wife, Ina, had a saying- If you impact the life of one person, the memory will live as long as that person does. Tom Mitchell’s memory will live for a very long time.”

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From Student/Player Rich Hanrahan ’94:  Only one other man has been as influential as my own father. Coach Mitch is and will always be Brother Rice. He was such a tremendous teacher, coach, mentor and friend to everyone who came in contact with him. His influence has been felt by thousands of players and students and will continue to be felt for years to come. His teachings on and off the field prepared me to be a better person, husband and father. Nothing but love, respect and admiration for a man who “Acted Manfully in Christ Jesus”. Lastly, I’m very thankful and grateful for Mrs. Mitchell, Tommy and Tim for sharing Coach Mitch with the Brother Rice community. He has joined the likes of Coach Joe and Coach Hanrahan. May he Rest In Peace!!

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From Rick Lietz ’89:  Coach was a master of understanding how adolescents think and with this skill he was able to motivate me and thousands of others like me toward achievement in the classroom, on the field and in life. In my experience with Coach; I was a student in his class, player on his team and employee in his park district programs. In all these endeavors, which span over various stages of my life, Coach was always there willing to advise, encourage or help out in any way. It is truly amazing that Coach has provided the same care and attention he gave me to thousands of others like me.

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From Terry LaBella ’82:  It was because of Coach Mitchell and the other men who coached and taught us at Rice that I went to Rice. It is also because of Coach Mitch, Coach Joe, and Coach Hanrahan that I have great memories of my four years at Rice. I have never regretted going to Rice and cherish my time there. Coach Mitch treated you like a man because he expected you to be a man. I think the best complement you can give a man is to call him “Coach”, especially after he is no longer coaching you!

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From a former player:  “I played for Coach Mitchell in the 70’s. Ten years after I had graduated, my father passed away suddenly. Coach came to my father’s services and expressed his sympathy to my mom, brothers and me. What an honor and surprise it was to have him stop in. I have never met an individual with more class than Coach Mitchell.”

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From George Wilson:  Tom was my assistant coach at Mt. Carmel in 1961-1962.  He was the quarterback coach and was well respected by his players and fellow coaches.  A man that made you feel better about yourself, a man of high integrity, honesty, and loyalty.  He had a very deep feeling about his family and would always ask you how you were doing and if YOUR family was doing well.  He cared for his players and took great pride in the fact that he felt privileged to be their coach.  He was very low keyed, but had a burning desire to win which he instilled in his players.  I will miss Tom and will always feel honored to have coached along side of him.

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From Mark Liptak ’73:  “I had his business law class in 1970 and I remember come World Series time that if, and I want to make this clear, IF everyone had their work done to Tom’s satisfaction as a teacher, he’d allow you to take out your transistor radio and listen to the World Series. I still remember listening to the Orioles and Reds (yes they actually played World Series’ games in the afternoon…) in the trailer out in the back that housed his class during that time period.

I also remember that again if everyone did the work they were supposed to do and there was time, Tom would set up the projector and we’d watch the football coaches’ film from the previous week’s game.

Stern but fair and his record as a coach and as a man speaks for itself.”

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From Steve Fleming ’76, Captain of 1975 Prep Bowl Champions:  “Tom Mitchell had the greatest impact on my life of any male other than my father. He was as fierce a competitor as I have ever known, while never compromising his principles or integrity. I have long said that Tom Mitchell taught me a lot more about life than football, and I’m eternally grateful for it. I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to see Mitch a little over a year ago when my son and his grandson were competing in a sectional shot-put competition at Lyons Township H.S. where his son Tom now coaches. Young Tom told me he was there and in typical Mitchell fashion Coach came looking for me. I spent the next hour talking to Coach and had the opportunity to thank him for everything he did for me and tell him how much he changed and shaped my life. As always Mitch was thankful, but humble. It is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life. I have spent the last 27 years teaching High School and coaching Varsity High School Football because of what Mitch meant to me and taught me with him always as my model. I will miss him terribly, because I truly considered him a hero in my life. Put simply, the world was a much better place with Tom Mitchell in it, and he will be missed, but never forgotten by the immense amount of people whose life he changed for the better. Thanks again Coach. Rest in Peace.”

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From Terry Barton ’69:  “Coach Mitchell was a wonderful person.  You respected him because he respected you.  He was so good for Brother Rice, its students, and its athletes.”

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From Michael Johnson ’90:  I can’t begin to express in words the impact Coach Mitchell had on my life. Aside from my parents, he was the most influential person in my life. He taught me so many things just about life that I will forever be in his debt. And I will pass those teachings to my kids one day and to the people I coach currently. Knowing Coach was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. He made me a better person and I will be forever grateful for what he did for me.  He was my football coach and guidance counselor and inspiration.

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From former player Brian McClowry ’76:   Coach Mitch was one special man who really cared about his players both on and off the field. I’ll never forget my senior year when I separated my shoulder at practice and Coach Mitch made a personal visit to my home to make sure that I was ok. He encouraged me to get back on the field soon because he had a feeling that it was going to be a very special year.  We won the Prep Bowl that season and we carried Coach Mitchell off the field in victory. After the game he had to tell one of our players that his Dad died of a heart attack during the game. We lit a candle in the locker room after the game and said a prayer.  That flame of faith that he instilled in all of us will live on forever and will never extinguish. He was a man of great faith and every game or practice ended in a prayer or a visit to the school chapel. He also helped me and many other student athletes get summer jobs at the Chicago Park District. He truly cared about you as a person and he made a difference in the lives of many young men.  He instilled a sense of “Rice Pride” in all of us and “‘Rice Pride” will never die. His legacy will live on in all of us. God Bless Coach Mitchell!

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From Tony Michalek ’78:  I have been blessed to have Coach Mitchell as my friend, mentor and coach. Coach’s wisdom and compassion are always filled with words of comfort and confident solutions. His amazing impact on lives stretches generations as my own children have learned from his presence. Generations of students will always remember his generosity, intensity and discipline…some from being disciplined, as a lot of us did for our own good. He is a second father to me as we spoke frequently on the phone or visited at our quarterly lunch with former players. Sadly, we were scheduled for lunch today. My heart is broken for his family and friends who will miss his remarkable presence. I love Coach Mitch and will miss him tremendously. God Bless You Coach.

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From George Skizas ’69:   Can’t stop thinking about Coach Mitchell.  I’m happy I had a chance to talk to him at Soldier Field in 2008.  He joked about how strange it was to see all of us looking, well, so old, now!  He remembered things about me that I had forgotten, and then joked again about how I had finally “filled out”!  It seemed that every conversation I’d had with Coach, whether I was 17 or 57, was memorable.

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From Jim Beckwith ’73:  “The world is today a poorer place because Coach Mitchell is no longer in it but it is forever a better place because he was. All of us who knew him will always own lives that are just a little more rich because of him.  He was a great teacher, a great coach and a great man.”

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From Mark Krol ’76:  “I had Coach Mitchell for Business Law.  He was the only teacher I ever had who had an objective standard for grading essay questions.  ‘You should have said this, this, that, and that.  If you did, you got full credit.  If you missed some you got a few points taken off.’  As good as he was on the field, he was even better in the classroom.  RIP Coach Mitchell.”

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From Chris Fitzsimmons ’68:  “I was a senior in 1967, when Coach Mitchell took over as varsity head coach.  My previous three years, the head coach was Bill Flynn, a hard-driving, old-fashioned, scream-in-your-face, never-satisfied kind of coach.  Next to Coach Flynn, Assistant Coach Mitchell was the caring, encouraging, supporting opposite.  When we heard that Coach Mitchell was going to take over as Head Coach, we thought, ‘Boy is this gonna be easy!’

For our first practice, on a hot, steamy August morning, Coach Mitchell had us circle up for calisthenics, and, after that, sprints.  We were winded.  Then he had us line up for a second set of calisthenics and sprints.  We were draggin’.  Then he had us line up for a third set of calisthenics and sprints.  We were dead.  And the message was received:  “Boys, this is not going to be the cakewalk you thought it would be!”

We had a great season that year, going once again to Soldier Field for the playoffs.

Football is my greatest memory from high school.  45 years later, I can still remember a lot of the games and plays and even the practices.  And Coach Mitchell was a big part of it.”

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From Jim Harrigan ’92:  “Coach Mitchell definitely cared, he was the real deal. I saw him at our local high school just a few months ago watching his grandson play football and went over to say hi and reintroduce myself, I had not seen him in probably 12 years. He coached/taught thousands of kids and knows everyone in Chicago and he knew my name before I said a word and was genuinely happy to see me and hear what I was up to. I’m glad I went over to say hi when I saw him and I’m sure glad my son got to meet him.  What great man and role model!  Rest in Peace Coach.”

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From Rich Seiler ’77:  “If you have ever played pick-up basketball with Coach, you knew his fierce competitive spirit.  If you ever experienced his in-your-face reprimands, then you knew his commitment to no nonsense discipline.   If you have ever received his fatherly advice or counsel or his understanding pat on the back, then you knew his love for mankind.  If you ever knelt beside him as he humbly led prayers, then you knew his unwavering faith in God.  His integrity,  passion and love for football, family and life were steadfast examples to hundreds of young men, his peers and the community.  I am reminded of a toast my Grandfather used to say,  ‘… Here’s to us.  Who’s like us?  DAMN FEW.’  You were one of kind Coach Mitch.  You will be sorely missed by many.  God bless you and rest in peace.”

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From Dennis Casey ’83:  While I never played a down of football while a student at Rice, Coach Tom Mitchell is one of the best, if not the best, examples of Brother Rice – smart, strong, confident, honest, but never, ever flashy.   Academics and integrity were just as important if not more important to Coach than excellence on the field.   All of the 1800 young men in the halls of Brother Rice in the early 80s were equally important to him.   Step out of line and one got what one deserved.  He taught me Business Law and I still remember much from that class today, 30 years later.   On the field, he and his staff made the most of his players and we were treated to a Prep Bowl victory in 1980 followed by a state championship in 1981.  I am fortunate to have been a classmate and friend to his sons Tom and Tim and I express my sincere condolences to them and the extended Mitchell family.  As has been stated here, Coach lived and showed us all how to “Act Manfully in Christ Jesus”.

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From Frank Moriarty:  I had the honor to have taught with Tom at Brother Rice. Unfortunately, the time that I knew Tom Mitchell was brief. He retired a short time after I started at Brother Rice.

I knew Tom Mitchell as a kind and gentle person. He was not the ordinary man you meet on the road. He was special. He had a quality that put you feel at ease immediately.  Perhaps it was a firm handshake or sparkle in his eye or the smile or just the manner in which he conducted himself – whatever it was – he made you feel welcome.

I came to know Tom as a renowned coach, an excellent teacher, a respected member of the faculty at Brother Rice and a good person. He is a legend as a football coach, respected and loved by many of his former players and students.

The light in our world shines a little dimmer this day but there is a star in heaven that burns all the brighter. Brother Rice High School sheds a tear as it bids farewell to one of its greats. Blessed Edmund Rice offers a warm welcome to one of his flock. Tom leaves a legacy of a beautiful family, memories of great victories and the respect of thousands of young men who had the good fortune to be touched by him.

My deepest sympathies to Tom’s family and the Brother Rice community.

From Jim Burns ’69:  I never played for Coach Mitchell, but I ended up getting to know him by just being around the school. He was a person who showed class, integrity and professionalism. Being in an environment where young men are starting to develop their character, you could not find a better person as an example to follow. He will surely be missed.

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From a Former Player:  I first met Coach Mitchell when I was still in grade school. I would watch the varsity practice and he would take the time to talk to me as if I was a student or player of his. I hung around the team so much he made me a ball boy for the varsity games. Coach Mitchell was the biggest reason I wanted to go to Brother Rice even if I couldn’t play for him. It was a great honor to play for Coach Mitch but a greater honor to just know him. Thank you Coach.

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From Bill Norwell ’73:  My two brothers (Jim ’76 & Andy ’79) and I graduated from Br. Rice.  Jim was the athlete – having played for Coach Mitchell for 4 years.  He was the quarterback of the ’75 Prep Bowl game against CVS. Jim and Coach Mitchell had a great relationship – his respect for Coach was shown in how hard he played for him. In December 1976, just as Jimmy was finishing his lst semester at college, he went into a coma over Christmas break.  The ER Doctor told my mom and dad that Jim had Leukemia and that he needed a blood transfusion.  The Doctor also told them that they needed blood donors for this transfusion.  My mom called Coach Mitchell. Within hours, we had hundreds of Brother Rice students and friends donating blood.  Unfortunately, the transfusion didn’t work and Jim died on December 23rd.  We hardly remember the next few days as it was a very hard time for our family as well as the Brother Rice family.  But, one thing I do remember is that Coach was with us every step of the way. The next year, on December 23rd – he brought my mom some candy and sat with her and my dad, helping them get through the day.  He continued to come every December 23rd for the next 36 years with a box of Fannie Mae and alot of memories.  The Norwell family will never forget what a kind man Tom Mitchell was and how we were blessed to have him in our lives.

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From Rick Klein ’78, former player and former Board Chairman:  “One of the most enduring memories of my relationship with Coach Mitchell was his ability to articulate what was really important in a young man’s life. When I suffered a season ending injury my senior year he came to my house late that evening and shared with me a personal story from his own life that it was now time to move on. That life was waiting for me and that although my high school football experience was now over, my future was about looking ahead to what was possible and not behind to what could have been.

Later as an adult, I was at a gathering of former players where Tom spoke. Instead of reminiscing about old games he instead used his time to tell us how important it was to stay true to each other and carry out the lessons that we were taught at Brother Rice. He then preceded to name every deceased member from every team that he coached, without note cards, and told us to always remember them. Another powerful example of his character and the love he had for his players.

He was a special man who made all of us better for knowing him.”

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From Neil O’Keefe ’83:  My condolences to my classmates, Tim and Tom.  I have some great memories of their father in class.

In fact, I’m writing this as my family and I drive up to Lake Tahoe for skiing. My 10 year-old daughters asked me who Coach Mitchell was…so I described how he would walk up and down the aisles in class “helping” you focus on answering the question and ensuring you came to class prepared.

Simply put, he was firm but fair, and you knew that he had your best interests in his heart.

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From Mike Carberry ’84:  Coach Tom Mitchell was a  genuine Christian leader for all of us to emulate. My memories of coach are seldom about a football game or a play or an accomplishment; the memories are of his leadership, his character, commitment, generosity,  and selfless devotion to all he touched during his years at Bother Rice.

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From David Chocola ’77:  “Tom Mitchell is the main reason why I’ve been coaching football for past twenty-five years, as well as maintaining a full-time job. I have learned from Coach Mitchell that the game is about the players, not the coaches, that you always win and lose with class, work hard and be prepared and good things will happen, and most important have fun.

I would like to share one of many Coach Mitchell stories.  It was in 1975, and we were playing in Brother Rice’s 1st Prep Bowl at Soldier Field. Several weeks prior to that game, Senior Kevin Barry was injured and on crutches up to game day. Prior to leaving Brother Rice High School for Soldier Field, Coach Mitchell told Kevin to dress for the game. It was a very successful day for the Crusader’s as we were beating Chicago Vocational School 26 – 0 as the game was nearing the final seconds.  Kevin was still on the sideline being supported by his crutches, when Coach had called for him to get into game.  Coach Mitchell told him to lineup only a few steps from the sideline on the line of scrimmage as the late Jim Norwell barked out the signals. I remember the sideline official coming over to Coach and stated that Kevin needed to be inside the numbers, but when he saw Kevin’s leg and crutches he knew what Coach Mitchell was up too. Again, it was about the player to Coach.

Coach Mitchell was my Mentor, a man of Honesty, Integrity and Passion.  Thank You to his Family for sharing his life with myself and many thousand others, for we are much better men for having him in our lives. I will miss him greatly, but will seek some divine insight when I am 4th and short. RIP Coach!”

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From Dan Brown ’82:  “Besides my father, Coach Mitchell was a role model and the reason I entered into the field of education.  The values Coach Mitchell installed into his players and students were for life.  The words love, hard working, caring, respect and humility are just a few that come to mind when I think of Coach.  The last time I visited with Coach Mitchell was at our 30th reunion for the 1981 State Championship football team.  As he and I watched the game and looked over the facilities that he dreamed about for so long and made come to life, the conversation was not about what he had accomplished, but more on me, my life and my family.  I not only had the honor for playing under Coach Mitchell, but also taught and coached with him for four years.  The opportunity to work along side your mentor is priceless.  Thank you Coach for everything you have done and the countless people whose lives you have graced.  You will never be forgotten and may you rest in peace.”

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From Gerry Szara ’73:  “Rice 30, Weber 8 that was the score on a sunny fall day October 1, 1972. The Crusaders lead by coach Tom Mitchell put on an offensive shellacking, beating Weber at home. What was most memorable about that game was not the lopsided score or the great Maroon and Orange victory, it was the fact that I was awarded the game ball in the Weber locker room after the contest by coach Mitchell. And, what was even more memorable was that I never played a down in that game!

I was depressed; in the dumps and had just gotten out of the hospital a few days earlier after having what some considered a season ending knee injury. I was a captain on the team. I was supposed to be out there on the field leading the troops into battle and instead was relegated to cheering from the sidelines. Coach Mitchell grabbed me by the arm just before the coin toss and sent me reluctantly on the field in street clothes, crutches, and a  Brother Rice wind breaker to flip the coin. He also asked me to address the team at half time prior to going back out onto the field for the second half. I don’t remember what I said, but the guys reacted by yelling and banging their helmets and charging out of the locker room totally psyched! Coach Mitch and coach Joe put their arms around me and assured me that I would be back that season.

That experience exemplifies the thoughtfulness, compassion, and caring that coach Mitchell had towards me that game day and to all his players and students. That event in this young man’s life meant the world. It launched my spirits into the stratosphere and gave me the confidence to continue.  40 years later, I still have that ball on my bookcase. God bless you coach and thank-you!

And by the way, I did return for the remainder of the season and we played on Soldier Field that year against the great running back Kevin King of St. Laurence. A year later, Kevin King and Mark Donahue joined me as room mates and fellow Wolverines at the University of Michigan.”

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From Doc Mathius:  Tom Mitchell was perhaps the finest man that I have ever known.  I say that without reservation or fear of overstatement.  Tom was a colleague, friend, and mentor and I am grateful to the Good Lord for affording me the opportunity to have had the chance to work closely with him.  For many years I watched first hand as this dedicated Christian gentleman shaped and molded young men… some football players, mostly not… and prepared them as best he could to not only face the rigors of adult life, but to contribute to their community and try to improve the human condition in any and every way they could.  Even though I have fallen out of regular contact with Mitch in recent years, I will miss him greatly.  God rest you gently my friend, and thank you, Mitch for… well… everything.

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From Tim Riemersma ’76:  “My tremendous respect for Coach Mitchell derives less from football related experiences than from other events that I witnessed.  His competitive drive in pick-up basketball games.  His emotional recitation of the deceased players in his ’94 retirement party speech.  His guidance that the ’75 Prep Bowl jackets should resist the trend of self promotion.  I also benefitted from observing his leadership style at the Mayor’s Neighborhood program. Coach Mitchell was the ultimate teacher, and his lessons have had a significant influence on my life.  My condolences to the Mitchell family during this trying time.  Rest in peace Coach Mitchell.”

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From Steve Cahill ’84:  “Mr. Mitchell ran a floor hockey league on Saturday mornings at St. Bede during the late 70′s. He was so positive and such a great man that he made it the best sports experience of my life. He was a kind and loving person and one of the main reasons I went to Br. Rice. He changed my life.”

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From Bob Jacob ’67:  I am biased when it comes to Coach Mitchell, as he and I developed a special relationship from 1965 (when he was 1st was hired as an Assistant Football Coach), till 1967 when he was the Head Football Coach and I,  the then, Captain of the 1967 Basketball team. Coach and I used to scrimmage ( B-Ball that is) every Wednesday ( from 1965 to 1967) and he would say, “Someday I’ll beat you kid”…then in 1967 when I shattered my ankle in the Gordon Tech game, was on the operating table the next morning to get screws and pins in my ankle , the papers said Bob Jacob was done for the year and I lost all my scholarships, the 1st thing Coach Mitch said to me was “Bob, When will you be back on the Court , this year”?  I did play in our last 3 games that year and “We” continued those Wednesday one on one scrimmages and he  said, “I will beat the Captain of this basketball team before you go on to college to play basketball”.  In our last outing before I went on to college to play B-Ball, Coach Mitch 21 – Bob Jacob 19.

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From Tom Bianciotto ’67:  Coach Mitchell started at Rice as an assistant coach to Coach Bill Flynn during my junior year, the 1965 season. Over the years following I would see him occasionally and I attended the Testimonial Dinner held for him when he left Brother Rice. Sometime after the dinner I met him somewhere (I don`t remember the when or the where) and congratulated him and offered to him that the Testimonial Dinner had been an extraordinary tribute and compliment to him. I can’t say I was expecting any particular response but his words caught me a little offguard. He said , “Yes, Tom, there was a lot of love in that room that night”. As I say, I was a little taken back, what man would be talking about love at such an occasion, but then I realized almost immediately he was referring to the spiritual love we find through our Christian Catholic faith. Everyone at the dinner that night had been able to experience the genuine love and affection present and it made for a wonderful evening. There was no hint from within his voice that he was the focal point, or had made it all possible, that it was his evening, only his humble observation of how he perceived the evening for himself and everyone there.

A good few years later, one of my sons worked with Coach at the Chicago Park District. It has been a wonderful feeling for me, as Matt’s father, to know that he got to so regularly interact and talk with Coach.

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From Murry Kimmons Jr. ’86: I am very saddened by the news about our beloved Coach Mitchell. I have a short story of what Coach Mitchell meant to me in my quest to be a man.

I attended Brother Rice High School in 1982 and graduated in 1986. In 1985, my father had a heart attack and died while we where watching television together. It was very traumatic for me, being an only child at the age of 15. Upon my arrival back to classes, there were three men who finished what my father started – Mr Hackett, Mr Antos and Coach Tom Mitchell. Mitch never let me get down or get destructive which is all I really wanted to do at the time. Instead, he finished providing the examples I needed in my life at the time.

On prom night, I locked my key in my car and Coach drove from Marriott O’Hare to meet my mother at Comiskey park to pick up my spare set. His wife became my date until he returned. He just was always there for me to turn bad situations into teaching moments for my life. I will miss him dearly and I am forever grateful.

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From Bob Napleton ’81: Thank you for the opportunity to reflect on the profound influence Coach Tom Mitchell had on my life. Quite simply, he was the finest gentleman I have ever met. Coach Mitchell exuded class, credibility, respect, passion, discipline, competitiveness and love. If you saw him in passing in the hallways at our beloved BRHS and he gave you a head nod, it made your day. That’s how much students respected this giant of a man. It showed that he cared about you and your well-being. Whether you played football or not, he deeply cared about each and every student who ever set foot at 99th and Pulaski.

While there were many first class individuals teaching at Rice during my years there (77-81), he was in a class by himself. He carried himself differently than the others and conducted himself with the utmost integrity. Teachers and students alike knew they were in the presence of a one of a kind Catholic gentleman.

After the fine tribute to him at Soldier Field in September 2008, I wrote a letter to Coach Mitchell expressing my deep gratitude for all he did for me as an impressionable young man. In vintage Tom Mitchell fashion, he promptly wrote me back a letter thanking me for the opportunity to interact with him as a student, player and friend. The letter is dripping with Catholic virtues such as humility, gratitude and goodness, and speaks volumes about how he felt about his time spent at Brother Rice.

Here are a few excerpts of his beautiful reply letter (see attached.) (His excellent penmanship no doubt the product of an excellent Catholic education and surprising given his mangled right pinky finger!)

“It is nice to know you have so many good memories of your time at Rice. As good as your memories are, I am fortunate to have many more. I think of the special times I shared with you which create such beautiful emotions and then if I multiply that by all the great young men I have been privileged to share with – it is just overwhelming.”

“So you see Bob, I was the one who was truly blessed in my association with you and all the other young men at Rice …”

We should all aim to live our lives and exhibit to others the character traits of Coach Tom Mitchell. Thank you Coach for allowing us to watch you live your life and the powerful example you set.

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From Willie Winters ’70:  My experience at Brother Rice after transferring in as Jr. from a seminary in New York in ’68 was a struggle for reasons that are no longer important. But playing football for Coach Mitch was one positive I’ll always cherish. I didn’t know a thing about Rice’s playbook or any football playbook for that matter and after enduring double sessions, I was sent down to the JV squad. This was a big disappointment but Coach Mitch kept encouraging me and the end of the year he said he was proud of me for sticking with it and not quitting. It was a difficult transition but I learned the system and played on the varsity as a senior. I always felt that Coach Mitchell was interested in my success even though I was a marginal player at best .He was proud of all his players.

I got to know Mitch much better as the years passed. Several of my nephews played for him and my admiration for him only increased. When I was working for the city I would see him from time to time in his role with the city’s Jumping Jack program. He was always encouraging, asking about my kids and never stopped being a mentor. That meant a lot to me. I hope that I have encouraged some people along the way as Coach Mitchell encouraged me. He was a rare human being.

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From Coach Dennis Duffy ’64:  I had the privilege of being on the faculty with Coach Mitch at Brother Rice for 19 years and being an assistant varsity football coach with him for 14.  Due to his preparation, intensity, and football knowledge, we won a lot of games that we shouldn’t have.  I believe that one of his most memorable football moments had to be when we won state in 1981 and his son Tom was one of the starting defensive backs.  He was an excellent classroom teacher, counselor, and coach. He was a leader, mentor, and friend.  As I am writing this, I can just imagine the reunion taking place with Coach Joe Johnston, Coach Tony Hanrahan ’61, and Coach Tom Mitchell.

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From Dan Durkin Sr. ’67:  I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the Mitchell Family and the Brother Rice Family for this loss. Coach Mitchell was a great man and example for all of his students. I was a student of Coach Mitchell and so was my son Danny, who played for him on the 1985 Team that went down state.

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From Mark Coghlan ’75:  Tom Mitchell was an extraordinary man of impeccable character with a zestful enthusiasm for life and competition. A man who was as tough as nails, yet possessed of a sense of compassion and unselfishness that made it virtually impossible for him not to give of himself in countless ways to the thousands of boys who were lucky enough to come into his path over the years, and who always benefitted from the interaction.

Coach Mitchell was my football coach for two years, from 1973 through 1974. He was an excellent coach. He expected his players to work hard, play together and conduct themselves with class. He would never allow an individual to put himself ahead of the team. He expected his players to meet certain standards. If you didn’t , Coach would simply take you aside by your facemask and conduct a one-on-one, in-your-face “discussion.” ( I was involved in more than a few of those discussions. Coach Mitchell didn’t lose those discussions.)

I have many fond memories of my years at Brother Rice. Many of them involve Coach Mitchell. Nothing stands out more than those pick-up basketball games with Coach after school. I loved those games. I loved trying to guard him. (“Trying” being the operative word. The man hardly ever missed a shot. He never stopped moving. He was in incredible shape. And he was unbelievably strong for his size. Which you found out as soon as you tried to box him out.)

But my favorite part of those pick-up games was that it afforded one the opportunity to be able to argue with Coach without getting in trouble. You couldn’t really argue with him on the football field. But in the pick-up games, Coach was not only always a participant, but the self-appointed referee as well. When one would raise this issue with him, Coach readily acknowledged the obvious conflict of interest. So you could give him some grief about his calls. He’d never change his call, mind you. Or let anyone else referee. But he’d always let you have your say, and then always respond in some way that made you laugh. By the time the game was over, you were soaking wet from having to chase him all over the court, but you had had a great time. I pity anyone at Rice who never had the opportunity to participate in a pick-up basketball game with Coach. They missed out on a true life experience.

One hears the phrase “a good man” used quite often. That phrase has never had more application than to Coach Thomas Mitchell. At his core, deep in his soul, he was the very essence of what a “good man” should be. He cared about his players, he cared about his students, and he cared about his family. He always wanted the best for you. My deepest sympathies to Mrs. Mitchell and his sons on the loss of this truly remarkable man.

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From George Velcich ’73: Because there were fewer upper class football players ahead of us, my own class was lucky to spend three seasons on the varsity team under Coach Mitchell. Lucky and blessed, for he had a profound effect on all of us.

Coach Mitchell was a pro in the business of making men. He pushed hard work, study and above all, character. He taught us by example – success came from preparation and repetition, combined with enthusiasm. We all remember his style – a word of encouragement between classes, a wave and a smile after school or a simple pat on the back after a good block. (And not too much screaming after a bad one…followed by a wink.)

Even as knuckleheaded teenagers, we soon all recognized that Tom Mitchell was a special guy, unique in his demeanor, his approach and most of all, the way he challenged us to succeed. It wasn’t by intimidation or pep talks. Instead, he would set standards and then encourage us to meet those standards. Whether teaching blocking assignments, cheering good grades or chiding juvenile behavior, Coach Mitchell didn’t just tell you to do it right, he made you want to do it right. In time, we didn’t want to disappoint him by not living up to his expectations for us. Screwing up meant letting let him down – on the field, in the school hallways or in our lives beyond Brother Rice.

When our last season ended with a heartbreaking last-second loss to St. Laurence at Soldier Field, we tearfully filed into the locker room. The first thing Coach Mitchell did was to quietly approach every senior, shake his hand and whisper thanks for four years of effort – he treated us like the men he wanted us to become. I would rather have lost every game with him than win them with anyone else.

Tom Mitchell was a good and decent man – among the best I’ll ever know. His life on earth was far too short, but in his time, he helped shape thousands of kids into honorable men. Each of them is a better man because Tom Mitchell showed him what a man ought to be. I’ll be forever grateful that of the thousands of lives he touched, one was mine.

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From Dan Dunne ’69:  Coach Mitchell was an incredible person who had an infectious smile and always an encouraging word.  I recall those April track meets at Rice when he would stop Spring football practice so the team could cheer for his football players who were participating in a track event.  I wonder if he knew how much we appreciated that?  Now it is our turn to stop what we are doing and think about Coach Mitchell.  Rest in peace, Coach.

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From Former Player Tom Broderick ’78:  There have been many tributes both written and oral regarding the great teacher, great football coach and great leader that was Thomas Mitchell.  I echo those comments but I would like to bring to your attention some other items.

1.  Over the years, several of the Cristian Brothers moved after retirement to facilities where they could obtain the care they needed.  Tom MItchell was a frequent visitor to these men.

2.  One of his “summer” jobs while teaching at Brother Rice was working for the Chicago Park District.  Tom Mitchell organized many activities for children in the parks.  He also helped teenagers get part time jobs – many of those kids outside the Brother Rice family.

3.  When Tom Mitchell worked for the Park District full time he was instrumental in organizing events and day camps for children, sometimes utilizing volunteers from the police department, fire department and other teachers if the Park District did not have money in their budget to pay counselors.  Most Park District publicity went to the downtown venues such as the marina, Soldier Field, etc.  Tom Mitchell utilized his connections with sporting goods manufacturers to obtain donated items for the children attending events he organized – without any publicity. There were times he organized field trips for his summer camps where the children saw downtown Chicago for the first time in their lives.

4.  When Tom Mitchell worked for the Chicago Housing Authority, he organized activities for the residents of the CHA communities.  During his tenure at the CHA, they had more activities and educational programs than ever before.

5. He taught me and thousands of others values that will remain with us forever.  One thing we did before every football game is say a prayer.  Now, whenever I coach one of my children’s games our teams say a prayer.

Thanks Coach!

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From Joe Krajacic  ’83: Due to asthma, I had decided to stop playing football after 8th grade.  Because of its strong academics, I decided to go to Brother Rice.  My older brother, the St. Rita Prep Bowl Champion,  had told me, “That’s OK.  If you ever decide to play football again, you can play for Tom Mitchell, but go win a state championship.”

I felt out of place my freshman year.  The teachers were good.  The other guys were nice, but I just didn’t feel like I belonged…until February of my freshman year.  Coach Mitchell came to my 3rd Period English class and invited me to come out and play football the next year.  I eventually earned the honor of being coached by Tom Mitchell and forever being a member of the 1981 IHSA 6A State Football Champions.

Just back from the Uof I in 1987, I was visiting Brother Rice.  Coach Mitchell said, “I understand you did a good job of coaching at St. John Fisher.  Would you like to come out and coach Freshman at Brother Rice?”   Later that season Coach asked me, “Have you ever thought of teaching?”  I didn’t need anymore hints.

In October of 1989, I was home briefly from Villanova University.  I went to go see the Rice – Rita game at St. Rita.  At half-time coach saw me in the stands.  I got the familiar Coach Mitchell scowl, finger point and “Come here!”  He told me, “You will never sit in the stands while I’m here coaching on the field.  Your job is here with me!”  You know where I spent the second half.

In May of 1990, I was once again visiting Brother Rice.  I had just interviewed over at St. Rita.  I spoke with Coach Mitchell who had written me a letter of recommendation.   He asked me to give him my resume.  Later, as I was leaving the building, Coach Mitchell came hustling down the main hallway with the Principal holding my resume.   Because of Tom Mitchell I had the honor of spending the next six years, the first of my twenty-three years in education, at Brother Rice High School.

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From Bert Solski ’72:  What can you say about Mitch?  He was my coach, teacher, counselor and a father figure.  His facial expressions were iconic whether you did something to please him or disappoint him you always knew where you stood with Coach.  That twinkle in his eyes will long be remembered.  Thanks Coach!

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From Tom Panfil ’69:  An example of Coach Mitchell’s self-giving:  We were having a problem getting practice time for my son’s grammar school basketball team. I called Coach to see if we use could use the Rice gym in the evenings. We were able to use the gym for several practices. Coach would get us going and then disappear. I thought he had gone home. We later found out that he had to be there while we were there and stayed until we left, not that we saw him. Of the 17 kids on the team, 15 ended up going to Rice. I think Coach, giving of his time, had a lot to do with that. When I mentioned this to Jim Casey, he responded “Tom Mitchell is Brother Rice”. ‘Tis true.

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From Jim Solus ’77:  I am starting to get ready to go to our Beloved Coach’s wake and many emotions are emerging. He was a Coach (not just a head coach but an actual teaching coach), an advisor, a confidant, a listener, a teacher, I could go on and on. I was very proud to be inducted into the Circle of Champions with him – anytime you get your name associated with Coach Mitchell it shines his qualities onto you. There are so many stories I could tell, but I’ll tell them every time we get together for any reason and that will be my small way of paying him back for what he taught me and keeping his legacy at the forefront.

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From Eric Rouse ’75 Mendel Catholic:  Even though I didn’t attend Brother Rice Coach Mitchell was a man that taught me to compete. Especially against Rice.  He once grabbed me before a game and said I hope you brought your A game because we did. I worked for him in the summers with the Mayor Daily Youth Programs.  He emphasized represent your self in a manner worthy of your family and friends.  He became a good friend and mentor when I moved into coaching and officiating.  He will be missed deeply.

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From Mike Osborne 90′:Coach Mitchell personified the Brother Rice credo, “Act Manfully In Christ Jesus”. He taught us to define moments. Not to let to let them define us.

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From Arthur Richardson, Chicago Park District:  I can honestly say that I am a better man for knowing the man who once coached my team to defeat from the other sideline. I played football for De La Salle Institute back in 1981, when Tom Mitchell was the head football coach for Brother Rice. During that year our team didn’t do as well as we would have expected so we had to find victory in more obscure ways. Like the time we played Brother Rice in a torrential downpour. We lost that game 6-0, but we found some sense of victory in knowing that we only lost by 6 points to the eventual state champs. Fast forward 25 years when I got the opportunity to meet Coach Mitchell off of the playing field. It was when I began working with the Chicago Park District and Coach Mitchell was running a program known as mentoring camps. He enlisted the support of numerous firemen, policemen and teachers to serve as mentors for the summer, running countless sports camps for kids in the roughest neighborhoods in the city of Chicago. The lasting impact that I carry today was due in large part to what I saw up-close from the man who constantly coached on and off the field, well after retiring from the Catholic League. Coach Mitchell had a wonderful ability to see more in you then you often saw in yourself, at least he did with me. Coach Mitchell is now a head coach in heaven alongside the other greats, Knute Rockne, Vince Lombardi and George Halas. Though he is gone from this earthly playing field, the positive impact he has left on us, those he has worked with, will forever be tattooed on my life. Rest in Peace Coach.

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From Brian Prendergast ’74:  I was a receiver who couldn’t catch, so Mitch found a spot for me running plays into the huddle. All I had to do was to hold the play in memory in the seconds that it took to run from the sidelines to our waiting quarterback. One time, during that five-second sprint, I forgot the play. So I ended up calling my own. I told our QB to run a fullback dive, which turned out to be a disaster. Our QB got blamed (OK, yelled at) for the whole thing. In the end though, Edmund Ignatius Rice looked down on all of us that day. The Crusaders won the game, our QB got a character-building moment and my play-calling career ended before it could do any more damage. Even as an adult, I never shared this escapade with Mitch, who probably would’ve gotten a laugh out of it. Tom Mitchell meant the world to me when I was at Brother Rice. It’s still true today. I just couldn’t let him down. He was the best.

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From Gil Gomez ’92:  The best thing I can say about Coach Mitch is that he literally helped become who I am today. In addition to the honor I had to play for him, I had the greater privilege to have him as my guidance counselor. He was a man who cared about every student. He gave me guidance, advice and support during my years at Rice. Moreover, he helped me select the right college of choice and set the future for my eventual career. Brother Rice’s commitment to leadership is best embodied by the life of Coach Tom Mitchell. He was a leader of young men who shaped the future of so many alumni that through the impact of the lives of those who knew him, his legacy and spirit will live on for generations to come. Perhaps gone, but certainly never forgotten.  Thank you, Coach!

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From Kurt Kobylecky ’88:  Coach Mitch was a positive influence to me, both on and off the field, and he helped me understand the responsibility I have to myself and to my fellow man. There are many memories that I have and lessons learned that help guide me in my life today and that help me act manfully through Christ. I entered Brother Rice as  a boy and left as a man. I attribute a lot of that to my experience with Coach Mitchell. It is time to celebrate the life of a great coach, man, and friend. Rest in Peace, Coach Mitchell.

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From Rob Fitzgerald ’73:  Coach Mitchell was one of the most stand up, classy and professional individuals I have ever known.

The fact that he had a great sense of humor and easy going style was just added bonus to his iconic character.

Often while waiting for basketball practice to begin during my junior and senior years,  he and I would often engage in “one-on-one” basketball games at a gym side hoop just for sport, yet the games always seemed to carry  a “hint of friendly competition.” Coach could not help it, for his “controlled intensity” was who he was, which is why I respected  him to the extent I did.  Yet, it was that fun-loving style and his dedication to the school, fellow staff, and all of the student body that made me think the world of Coach Mitchell.

Football player or not, jock or non-jock, Coach treated us all the same, with dignity, respect, style, class, compassion, and a touch of sarcastic wit and humor.

It was my personal privilege and honor to have crossed paths with Coach Tom Mitchell during four fantastic years at Brother Rice.

God Bless Coach Tom Mitchell.

Comments

  1. mikechamp says

    REST IN PEACE COACH MITCHELL… Some people come into our life and quickly leave…some stay for a while and leave their footprints on our heart…  Coach Mitchell left his footprints on so many of us, in so many different ways…as a teacher, mentor, coach and always a friend…
     
    Mike Fratto ’67

  2. footballbr says

    I was a captain on the BR football team in the 80′s.  During my senior year, I recall learning of a remarkable story about Mitch.  One night, a former player showed up at Mitch’s home in the middle of the night.  Unfortunately, this person had fallen on some hard times, was apparently quite desperate, drunk and out of sorts.  Mitch took this person in, cleaned him up, checked him into a local hotel and stuck a 50 dollar bill in his shirt pocket.  More than any other thing, that’s the story I remember most about him.  He was genuine.

  3. Leopschmitz says

    Leo Schmitz ’77: Coach Mitchell was not only a good coach but a real LEADER. Boys turn into young men in high school and that is the most crucial time to have positive role models. Coach Mitchell was one of them. He helped many of us, including myself, to grow up and know that we are only successful if we ALL work as a team. Simple but profound. I have used what he and Brother Rice have taught me every. God Bless you coach and thank you for what you have done for numerous young men.

  4. DDuffy9307 says

    I had the privilege of being on the faculty with Coach Mitch for 18 years and being a varsity assistant on the football team for 14.  He was an excellent teacher, counselor, and coach.  Thanks to his preparation and intensity, we won a lot more games than we should have.  He was a leader, mentor, and friend.  My life has been blessed because I knew him.  As I am writing this, I can only think of the wonderful reunion
    going on with Coach Joe, Tony Hanrahan, and Coach Mitch.   Coach Dennis Duffy, 64′

  5. urbaniakproperties says

    Tom Mitchell was my head football coach for three years, his first three as the head coach at Rice. He was demanding, energetic, focused, intense, and encouraging. I still remember the poem that accompanied our playbook every year:  “If you think you’re beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you won’t. If you like to win but don’t think you can, its almost a cinch you won’t….Remember life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later the fellow who wins, is the fellow who thinks he can”.  Thanks for everything, Coach. Dave Urbaniak, Class of 1971.

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