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Interview: Coach Danny Mitchell - The OC Every Team Dreams Of

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"...it challenges you to become a clear and concise teacher, always giving you the opportunity to explain “why” and “how”.

When the name Danny Mitchell is mentioned - there are nothing but words of praise surrounding it - from "an amazing person" to "the best coach". Coach Mitchell successfully managed to transition from a player to coach position, and he truly is one of the best at what he does. 


The Transition

I agree that the transition from playing to coaching can be tough for some. I knew at 16 years old that I wanted to coach. There is a saying that “the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.” My dad, Mike Mitchell, has been coaching football and baseball in San Diego for over 40 years now, and has become one of the winningest coaches all-time there. He is being honored next month in the “San Diego High School Sports Association- Legends of Coaching''. He is where my foundation and passion for coaching was ingrained.

What made me decide to want to become a coach was formed from a mentor who I met at 16 years old, Coach Tom Martinez. Coach Martinez is well known for being Tom Brady’s Quarterback Coach from a young age, and I was fortunate to get to spend time with both. Coach Martinez was an incredible teacher, and always explained the purpose and reason “why” to everything he taught. I developed an incredible relationship with him and traveled all over the United States with him learning and getting opportunities to learn how to teach. Coach Martinez coached 40 plus years at the College of San Mateo never having a losing season.

I guess my “rebranding” came once I knew I wanted to coach. I believe my old teammates would say I was like a “coach on the field”. I was never the most talented but knew my own personal success could only come through my teammates’ success. The team aspect is what I love the most about sports.

(c)www.rolf-luettecke.de

Coming to Europe

My journey began as the Head Coach of the Osnabrück Tigers. I was coaching at my Alma Mater, Willamette University, at the time and was lucky to be coaching a lot of the guys that I called teammates two years prior. One of those teammates was also, and still is, one of my best friends, Quarterback- Josh Dean. Josh was an incredible player here in Europe starting with the Tigers, then leading Calanda, and finishing up with Ancona. Osnabruck signed me, Josh, and my other best friend/brother, high school teammate & linebacker, Patrick Kelly. We were lucky to join an organization that supported us to be ourselves and bring our love for the game. We ended the 2014 season undefeated in one of the most memorable seasons in organization history. Our offense averaged 49 pts per game and our defense averaged giving up less than 6pts a game. More importantly, we fell in love with the members of the team, and that experience I believe really molded the paths of our lives.

This experience really had me fall in love with the culture of football in Europe. There is such a purity to the game, and the players here have such a genuine love for competing together. This is what made me want to return in 2017 with the opportunity to be the Offensive Coordinator for Carlstad Crusaders. This organization, again, felt like a family to me, and it was no surprise as to why they are one of the most successful football organizations in Europe. We finished the season undefeated and won the Swedish Super Series averaging 55 pts per game over the season.

I feel so fortunate to be back here again with the Vienna Vikings and getting to compete on the biggest stage of the game in the ELF. Coach Calaycay is without a doubt a Hall of Fame Coach, and the entire Vikings organization reflects that. The leadership, coaches, community, and players are some of the best in the world, and I’ve fallen in love with every minute of being here. I can’t wait for the season.

The Challenges

This is going to sound like a cliché coach answer, but I think there are challenges in every aspect of life no matter what your profession is or your location. I think if you asked my closest friends and family, they would describe me as “naïvely positive”. In Europe the common excuse is that the game is still “new” here compared to the United States. I believe this is an incredible opportunity as a coach because it challenges you to become a clear and concise teacher, always giving you the opportunity to explain “why” and “how”. A huge part of that is through connection.

I was fortunate to work and learn under Coach Dale Lindsey, the Head Football Coach at the University of San Diego, and his staff in 2015, and he wrote me a letter of recommendation with the greatest compliment I’ve ever received as a coach (I’ve kept the letter to this day). Coach Lindsey said, “Danny does not look at coaching as a job, but a profession”. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but now it is crystal clear, and is exactly why I am back coaching in Europe. Being a coach is a huge part of who I am, and this is how I overcome any challenges. I love coaching football because of the people I get to interact with daily through this game. This will never be a “job” to me, and I feel like the luckiest person in the world to get to do this 24/7. I genuinely love every minute of being here.

The Moments

This is a tough question because there have been so many. The first thing that stands out are the relationships I’ve gotten to make through coaching all over the world and at so many different levels. Championship teams are always special, but what specifically sticks out are the individuals I’ve had a chance to fall in love with. There are athletes I’ve coached in college that are incredible husbands and professionals, there are High School athletes that I’ve coached that I get to watch on TV now, and there are coaches I’ve coached with that I can call at any moment in life and know they’d drop everything and be there for me in an instant. How can you not be romantic about football or sports if this is what it brings to a person’s life!

Domestic Talent

The local coaches I’ve had the opportunity to work with have been phenomenal with each organization I’ve been with. Great coaches are always consistently learning and sharpening their craft, and I see that with every coach I’ve worked with here. I learn so much from them as well. The Tigers, Crusaders, and Vikings have incredible leadership, and I’ve been so lucky to be able to add to each place.

I know I am currently with coaches that I will be life-long friends and colleagues with. As I said before, Coach Calaycay is without a doubt one of the best I’ve ever been around, and his entire staff reflects that. I get to work alongside one of the best assistant coaches in all of Europe, and really the world, in Max Kossler, and one of the sharpest O-line coaches as well in Thomas Tippold, and that’s just the offensive side of the ball. I learn something new everyday from our strength coach, Chistoph Putz, and our entire Defensive staff. My advice would be to import coaches coming for the first time to Europe. I’d advise you to listen and evaluate the situation you are in. There are good people and coaches within each organization, and it is our role as “outside” coaches to be additions to that built in culture.

Legacy

I believe every great coach (and person) is a culmination of all the influential people within their life. The “legacy” I’d like to leave would hopefully be one that honors all those that have helped me throughout my journey in this game. The only “project” I am working on is to consistently be the best version of myself and asset to the members of the Vienna Vikings one day at a time.


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Touchdown Europe: Interview: Coach Danny Mitchell - The OC Every Team Dreams Of
Interview: Coach Danny Mitchell - The OC Every Team Dreams Of
"...it challenges you to become a clear and concise teacher, always giving you the opportunity to explain “why” and “how”.
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