North Texas Daily

Just as she did 16 years ago, Jalie Mitchell looks to lead women’s basketball program to prominence

Just as she did 16 years ago, Jalie Mitchell looks to lead women’s basketball program to prominence

December 01
10:57 2016

Headed by sophomore duo Rosalyn Reades and Jalie Mitchell, the Mean Green women’s basketball team took the court at the Super Pit. Their opponent, for the second time in the 1999 season, was the dominant SMU Mustangs.

The Mustangs came in with a 15-2 record, while North Texas was struggling at 9-8. But with Mitchell as the team’s leader and best player, they never feared a challenge.

The Mean Green defeated SMU 90-77 in what was a monumental win for the program and Mitchell.

The victory is one of the memories she relives every time that she steps on the court in the Pit.

“We didn’t lose much on this floor, only four losses at home in my time,” Mitchell said, reminiscing. “I have a lot of great memories, like buzzer beaters, and my career high in points [game], and beating SMU here.”

After her playing days finished, Mitchell found a job in banking until she discovered an opening in coaching that she could pursue on the side.

“I knew I wanted to coach, and I got into it around 2006,” Mitchell said. “I was still banking, but I was helping out with an ABA men’s team in Fort Worth for a couple of years before I got my first coaching opportunity as an assistant here in 2008.”

From banking and assisting the Texas Tycoons’ ABA team, to finally getting a shot at North Texas, Mitchell has never really wanted to be anywhere else, despite taking a few assistant gigs elsewhere to build her resume.

She admits the opportunity to coach in Denton has been extraordinary, and in a way, feels like it was just meant to be.

“The advantage I had is that I came to a place that I already knew and loved and really had a passion for,” Mitchell said. “I had the pleasure of already bleeding green, so it was a no-brainer for me to come back and take the position.”

Her passion has spilled onto the court, where in practices, timeouts, and games she has shown an intensity that pushes her players on a consistent basis.

In her first year, Mitchell posted an 11-19 record, including nine home losses, more than twice what she had in her four years as a player. Despite this, she has shown major signs of improvement, not only with her coaching, but also with her recruiting and ability to draw players from other prominent programs.

“[She has] a lot of competitiveness and she pushes us,” senior guard Terra Ellison said. “Now, we’re pushing to get somewhere with this program. Her mindset and how much passion she has for basketball just helps us and also the program.”

Mitchell attributes a large part of her success to her years at the University of Texas at Austin under Karen Aston.

While Mitchell is still fairly young, she already has the intangibles that allow her to connect with players — an ability that few coaches possess in college basketball.

Players new to the Mean Green feel this connection early in their arrival at North Texas.

“What stood out to me [is] how she cares for us,” sophomore guard Tyara Warren said. “She’ll push us. If we’re not doing something the way that she thinks we can, she’ll push us in practice until we do it [right].”

Just like when she was a player, Mitchell wants to be the best. While she pushes her team in practice, they know her experience as an assistant and a player shape how she views the game. Warren said along with caring for her players, Mitchell also prepares them for challenges and obstacles that come with the grind of a full season.

“Being mentally tough, she teaches that a lot,” Ellison said. “Without her here I probably would not have that [as much]. A lot of the things she tells us I bring off of the court as well. The way she pushes us in practice is the way I push myself in life.”

Back on the hardwood, Mitchell’s squad has loaded up with talent, and after an influx of transfers and freshman, appears ready to compete at a high level.

Now more than ever, the ceiling is high, and the expectations are lofty.

But just as she did against the 15-2 Mustangs nearly 16 years ago, she never backs down to the challenge ahead.

“[I want to] build and expand the program and put North Texas basketball in a place that it hasn’t been,” Mitchell said. “Even myself as a player, we didn’t go to the NCAA tournament, so for me taking on this challenge, [I want] to make it the best, not just continue to be mediocre.”

With a young core and only three seniors on this year’s team, the women’s basketball team is poised to contend for Conference USA titles in the near future.

The Jalie Mitchell at North Texas is in full swing — again.

And she expects to hang some banners.

“When I think about the A&M’s and the Baylor’s, they all started somewhere,” Mitchell said. “Look at them today and they’re a different program because somebody’s came in there and turned it around, so it can be done, and that’s the goal.”

Featured Image: Before the beginning of the first overtime in a game last season, North Texas head coach Jalie Mitchell gives the team a game plan. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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