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By LARRY VAUGHT
Jenna Mitchell had another life-changing experience about 18 months ago when she gave birth to Saylor, the couple’s first child. Matthew Mitchell had an older daughter, Lacy, and Jenna Mitchell says the sisters are best of friends.
“I mean I can get emotional sitting here thinking about it, but it makes life before her a lot more trivial. She’s just — I don’t know why I waited so long. I’m so glad my life has ended up the way it has, and she’s been an unbelievable blessing. I’m so glad I’m not single and living in New York in corporate America. She’s been a huge blessing,” Jenna Mitchell said.
She’s also become a fixture at the UK women’s game both in Memorial Coliseum and on the road — as well as a favorite at the women’s basketball office whenever she visits.
“I think as parents we always think our kid’s the most adorable, so I always get afraid that I’m one of those parents where I just think everyone thinks she’s as cute as I think she is,” the UK coach’s wife said. “And so I’m always afraid that the girls are going to get tired of her, for lack of a better word I guess, but they are so unbelievably sweet. It really touches my heart how sweet they are with her. It seems like they all love her as much as I do. It’s very touching to see.”
That includes the road trips. She’s already been to 21 states and now has her own suitcase with wheels to pull to mimick her mother and players.
“I love being a part and traveling, and this is the time ironically I get to see the girls and Matthew more during this time of the year than during offseason because in offseason, he’s out in a different city in the month of July recruiting and that’s not realistic for me to travel with him. This time of year, when I’m traveling, it’s really an opportunity where I can spend time and create bonds with the girls and then have quality time with Matthew,” Jenna Mitchell said.
“It was really important to me to still travel after Saylor was born, but Matthew was really apprehensive about it, saying, ‘This is a business I’m running, not a daycare. I don’t want her crying on the airplane, keeping the girls up, or distracting the girls.’ As soon as she was born, he flipped a switch and said, ‘Absolutely. She’s got to be at every game.’”
Jenna Mitchell recalls when Saylor was “under the weather a little bit” when UK played at Arkansas and had a quick turnaround before going to Vanderbilt.
“We had considered staying home and he didn’t want to hear anything about that. He wanted us with him. Things definitely changed after she got here. He wants us at every game,” Jenna Mitchell said.
One reason for that is that Jenna Mitchell feels Saylor has helped changed the couple’s perspective during basketball season.
“After a loss, we’re both crushed about it and sad about it. Everyone is— the team, the staff — but it’s fun to see her after a game. We’re all crushed but she can bring a little happiness and brighten our night after that, so she definitely helps,” Jenna Mitchell said. I tell people, I don’t know whether it’s child abuse or good family bonding time because of all the miles she already has. She’s been to 21 states I think, and she’s not even 2. We started her young so I think she just doesn’t know any better — know any different.
“She’s been a really flexible kid, can really handle different places to sleep and traveling and napping at different times and different places. I think it’s made her a really adaptable kid , so I think it’s done her really well.”
Next: Jenna Mitchell’s expectations for this team and her charity work.