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Vaught’s note: Recently I got to sat down with Jenna Mitchell, the wife of UK women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell, to discuss a variety of things to hopefully give you some insights into the Mitchells and the UK program. Here’s the first of a series of articles with her.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Jenna Mitchell was a student at the University of Florida — and a public relations major — with no thoughts of marriage. She was dreaming of a big-time job in New York City or somewhere like that.
However, her life changed one night when she was bartending and Matthew Mitchell, then a Florida women’s assistant coach, came in late one night along with Florida men’s coach Billy Donovan and some other coaches.
“The restaurant had cleared out and my manager and I, because we had basically closed, my manager and I had to go back in the kitchen and cook the food. It was just my manager and I and the table of coaches and they were a really rowdy bunch,” said Jenna Mitchell between laughs. “Matthew and I kept making eye contact. We never really said anything but there was definitely eye contact.
‘He swears that I never noticed him that night and that I was all about Billy Donovan. Billy was a handful but I definitely noticed him (Mitchell) that night. So after that, they paid the bill, no big deal, and they left.”
She says Mitchell kept coming into the restaurant for the next month but they kept missing each other.
“But meanwhile, he met all my girlfriends that worked at the restaurant. One in particular, Marta — he kept on asking her about me and she said, ‘Oh , you guys would be a good couple’ but kept on forgetting to tell me about him,” Jenna Mitchell said. “So about a month goes by and she finally says, ‘Jenna, I keep on forgetting to tell you but the women’s basketball coach, or the assistant women’s basketball coach, has a crush on you.’ And I’m thinking, ‘Oh, you know nothing about basketball. Going to Florida, we’re all about football.’
“Matthew loves the story that one of my roommates said one time we should start going to the men’s basketball games, that supposedly they were doing really well. So Matthew loves that we went to every football game but didn’t go to any of the basketball games until I met Matthew. So he comes in about a month later and I’m thinking he’s an older gentleman, it was a like a cute pat-on-the-head kind of crush, not that he was someone I wanted to date.
“Coincidentally, he comes in that night, and it’s a nice restaurant, and Marta screams from the back of the restaurant, ‘Jenna, that’s him!’ So he waves and he and his best friend Tommy Ostrom who was an assistant for the men at the time and he’s actually at Dayton right now as an assistant … They come in and are flirting and blowing kisses and that night he asked for my number and we go out a few nights afterward, and the rest is history. We’ve been together pretty much ever since.”
Next: Life as a coach’s wife.