Georgia Football & SEC Media Days: Malcolm Mitchell Lives Beyond the Field


At Media Days, Georgia football wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell will again describe the off field journey to becoming a high profile proponent of reading.

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The Southeastern Conference is documenting the compelling stories of SEC athletes at the 2015 Football Media Days. Thanks to Georgia Football wide-receiver Malcolm Mitchell, they picked a good year to kick off the program, Beyond the Field.

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Beyond the Field allows one student representative from each SEC school to tell a personal a story that transcends his football accomplishments.

All the stories will be compelling, including tales of homelessness, poverty, and inspiration. And then there is Malcolm Mitchell’s story.

Malcolm Mitchell is an avid reader who, through a chance encounter with another reading enthusiast, became a member of a local book club of women mostly between the ages of 40 to 60 years old. He struggled to read even as late as his high school years, but devoted enough time in it to become a prolific reader and now reads regularly to children, stressing to them the importance of reading.

The above description from is the tip of the iceberg.

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How did Mitchell, once a self-proclaimed poor reader who’s young life revolved around sports and competition, end up browsing the aisles of a Barnes and Noble Bookstore, anyway?

Mitchell confessed to Steve Hartman of CBS and that he read on a junior high level when he arrived at Georgia. The expected response of a 20-year-old athlete and poor reader is to pressure the tutors and faculty, to make excuses,  to parlay athletic gifts into privilege, or just to find a way to get by. “Can’t you get me some test questions?” “Can I get some extra-time?”

Instead, Mitchell responded by challenging himself to read better. Already sharing his newly acquired love for reading, he visited a bookstore to help a friend pick out some books. While there, Mitchell employed the trademark vivacious personality so often exhibited on the field and a big smile to ask another store patron, a complete stranger, “What books do you read.”

The words “book club” were spoken and in that moment, old school grace answered youthful exuberance, changing Mitchell’s life  – and many others – forever. “You [joined] a book club? I want to be in a book club!”

“Do you  think they’d let me join you’re book club?”

And they did, and he did.

If that were the end of the story, it would be a Hollywood Classic. But for Mitchell, that moment, created by Mitchell’s will, discipline and personality, is only the beginning of the story.

After arriving in Athens, Mitchell transformed himself into an avid reader, a bookworm.

He was called a nerd, “It’s like a badge of honor to me.”

God bless you Malcolm Mitchell. For every parent and teacher, what sweeter words could come the mouth of an athletic superstar.

Scoring touchdowns-That’s a gift. I had to work to read.

” . . . a badge of honor.”

Bring it!

He has.

Mitchell is no longer just an avid reader. He is an avid reading proponent. Using his new-found bookworm super star status, Mitchell inspires reading. The Reading with Malcolm twitter page reflects the tone of Mitchell’s mission. The personality and smile Mitchell employed to find his book club now brings books and reading to children.

Malcolm Mitchell is a big play game changer –  a season changer. Mitchell’s long, three-year recuperation from injury should be at an end. The dynamic playmaker expects to again excel on the field. The NFL should call and Mitchell will likely join the lineage of Bulldog pass catchers that played in the NFL.

But the touchdown machine’s proudest moment came with a book in his hand. “I finished the Hunger Games series in about two days.”

Not scoring touchdowns?

“That’s a gift. I had to work to read.”

Reading was difficult for Mitchell, but he challenged himself and he succeeded. The by-product of this accomplishment is pride and self-assurance.

Nothing worth doing is easy to do. And the seed of self-esteem, after all, is a difficult task well done. That, for all those who – like Mitchell – lead the next generation, is the greatest Malcolm Mitchell lesson.

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