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Matthew Mitchell: What I Have Learned

-1By MATTHEW MITCHELL

Since the last time I spoke publicly on April 27, much has happened in our program. I have to be honest, there have been some very, very difficult moments these past two weeks. Players transferring, recruits decommitting and a complete turnover of our coaching staff was not what I had hoped for nor expected at the end of the 2015-16 season. All of that happening put our remaining players, our remaining staff, the media and our loyal and devoted fans in a state of confusion.

I have had to look in the mirror and ask myself an important question, “How did all of this happen?” How could we have success in the classroom, in our community and on the court during the 2015-16 season and simultaneously have players and coaches wanting to leave at an alarming rate? 

While it’s impossible for me to know every detail, what I do know is this: through all of the upheaval and all of the painful moments, I have learned lessons that will stay with me forever and will ultimately make me a much better coach.

Among the many things that I have learned in this experience, there is one that really sticks out that I want to share with you. Upon much reflection, I now know that over the past four years there were certain things that I thought had become automatic in our program because of our previous success. I’m not talking about “kicking back, not working and believing things would just happen” kind of automatic. Many players, coaches and support staff have worked very hard over the past four years. We achieved results in the classroom and on the court that most programs would be very pleased with.

What I now clearly see is my failure to get what was in my head and in my heart to enough people to prevent something like this from happening. Good intentions are worthless if they are not communicated effectively. I needed to be more involved in the details of our success and communicate that to people more effectively. I am grateful to so many people who have taken the time to listen, provide constructive criticism and share wisdom gained from their experience in an effort to help me improve. 

I am grateful to the countless number of people in the Lexington community and around the country who have supported me during this difficult stretch. I have received prayers, handwritten notes, phone calls, text messages, people just stopping me for a word of encouragement, you name it. I have had incredible support and I am so very thankful for that!  During the most difficult times, those words of encouragement and the strength I gain from God have kept my vision clear. 

While I know I can and will improve, I also know that the foundation of this program is very strong. We will be more committed than ever to our program’s Winning Tools: Honesty, Hard Work and Discipline, and use those tools to improve our program and make it stronger than ever before.

Our players, their parents, our staff and our administration are determined to make this program better than ever. We will not give in to negativity. We will not be discouraged by rumors of some scandal that does not exist. We will stay laser-focused on building our roster for 2016-17, diligently planning and organizing for a great summer of growth and communicating all of the positive realities that exist at Kentucky. I have never been more determined to get our program to the top. We will get there!

Thanks to everyone in the Big Blue Nation who has shown their unwavering support. The players who have stayed together with us through this tough time gain strength from your love. You are a huge part of why they are here and they need you. Please keep it coming, BBN! We will honor that love and support with an effort that will continue to make you proud of our program. 

Finally, I thank God for giving me this opportunity to grow as a person. I will learn from the lessons He is providing!

‘til the Battle is won!

Matthew Mitchell

10 comments

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  1. Norman Einstein

    My professional well being was jeopardized in “12 when everything came crashing down in a 2 week stretch. And like Coach Mitchell, i got caught up in growing the business and lost sight of communicating the core values that got us there. The best of intentions wasn’t enough to hold it all together. People I had mentored and assisted for years just looked the other way and a few even gorged on the opportunities left by the vacuum. It was a heartbreaking and terribly lonely experience.
    Bottom line… while I do not pretend to fully understand the depth of Matthew Mitchell’s pain, I can appreciate what he must be going through. You won’t be hearing me call for his head.

    Hang tough Coach. Sometimes stuff happens and all that’s left is how we address it. You’re off to a nice start IMO.

  2. C U @ Final 4

    Thanks Norman for your response. I do understand how these things happen. Glad to see that you have worked through yours and I hope that Matthew Mitchell can do the same.

    I kept waiting for “another shoe to drop” in the MM saga and as far as I know it has not. Yes Players & coaches have left but players have also returned to coach. The girls are not giving good reasons for leaving. Why would they return if there were a disturbing skeleton in his closet? Other posters clamored for his resignation because he had single-handedly destroyed the “Great UK Womens B-Ball program.” Yes we had two well know names that coached just before MM but neither had a winning record and neither reached the NCAA Tourny as consistently as Mitchell. If the UK Womens program was great, it was great in large part because of Mitchell.

    I do understand that the bleeding must stop. But I do not think that his career should be ruined until a legitimate reason is given.

    1. Norman Einstein

      Thanks CU. I think Coach Mitchell will be fine. Really only two options when something like this happens… curl up in a corner to wallow in the pain or pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward. Don’t see much quit in Coach Mitchell.

      GO CATS

  3. C U @ Final 4

    Just read an interesting article about Samari Walker.
    Noticed the school that she transferred from.
    Notice the Coach that she finished her career with.

  4. KingGhidora

    While I’m not at all sure what happened to this team, it is commonly understood that the buck stops at the desk of the coach. They get paid the big money to keep stuff like this from happening. So even if he had nothing to do with all the problems it’s going to rub off on him and affect his ability to continue as a winning coach. That will follow him no matter where he might go. I admire the administration for sticking by the man but that may not change anything. Right or wrong he is ultimately responsible. There’s just no way around that. I’d love to see him rebound and have great success at UK but fans across the BBN are left to fill in the gaps with their own imagination the way things are. The same goes for future recruits. At this point his career may be beyond fixing. Not everyone has the stars line up just right for them to be a successful coach. It’s a tough business and people have lost their coaching jobs for far less than a mass exodus.

    1. Mike

      10 years at the university and all of a sudden there is a culture change under way and a complete coaching staff that apparently wasn’t on the same page as MM. He is responsible for vetting all these players and coaches and this train wreck is his responsibility. Maybe he is trying to be too cute with midnight madness skits, cooking show, or too much time with growing family etc. It would be a little easier to try and comprehend if he were just starting out as a coach but not the case, This is a dream come true for all opposing coaches recruiting the same gals we are. I will be curious to see how many of you will be okay with out finishes the next few years. He needs to resign.

      1. Larry Pup

        Man you are like a broken record. A bitchy, meddling old woman.

        1. Mike

          Sounds like you might have married one so guess you would know.

          1. Larry Pup

            You a real bad ass Mike.

  5. Larry Pup

    I admire coach Mitchell for his apparent faith in God that he expressed so well. With that said, I am still old fashion enough to believe men should coach young men and women coach young women. I don’t imply anything by that statement, for nobody apparently knows what really happened, including Mitchell, if you have heard his comments to date. I still don’t understand my wife at times, and we have been married many years. IMO, it takes a woman’s intuition to understand and deal with these young women as athletes, and other issues they might be dealing with on a day to day basis. Hey, I wish them all well, the players and Coach. They will have to dig out of this mess, and play on. UK’s Admin. will have to make decisions as to who will head up this program going forward. Apparently it will be Coach Mitchell.

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