Written by Darla Dunning, Asst. Opinions Editor
March 6 is Malcom Mitchell Day.
The City of Valdosta gathered at Bazemore-Hyder stadium Monday night to honor Mitchell for his accomplishments on and off the football field.
Before Mitchell became a wide receiver and Super Bowl champion for the New England Patriots, he played football for the Valdosta Wildcat’s.
Before the event, Mitchell talked about being back in his hometown of Valdosta after winning the Super Bowl with his team.
“It feels great to be home,” Mitchell said. “It has been awhile since I’ve been here, and now I have the opportunity to come back and share things that I am fortunate enough to accomplish.”
In addition to being a Super Bowl champion, Mitchell wrote “The Magician’s Hat,” which won him the title of Children’s Author of the Year by the Georgia Writers Association in 2016.
Mitchell spoke about the honors his book received and the message he wanted to share with children to inspire them to read.
“The message that I would share is that you can truly accomplish whatever you put your mind to, and you can go after it with everything in you,” Mitchell said. “That’s a message that my mom has given me since I was a child, so this is a message that I will send.”
During the event, Dr. Todd Cason, superintendent for Valdosta City Schools, spoke about Mitchell’s book impacting young children throughout the city schools of Valdosta.
“Malcolm, we thank you for always making Valdosta a priority,” Dr. Cason said. “The impact of your visits made on our young people was extraordinary. Last year, over 650 first graders took home a copy of ‘The Magician’s Hat’ to help jumpstart their love for reading. We are looking forward to you visiting our schools again, so our students can read with a Super Bowl champion.”
Dr. Cason announced he will have Mitchell’s number 26 Valdosta Wildcat’s jersey and number 19 New England Patriots jersey hung in the new Valdosta High School, so students may be inspired to strive for greatness.
Allen Rodemaker, coach of the Valdosta Wildcat’s and Georgia’s Coach of the Year, spoke of when Mitchell played for the Valdosta Wildcat’s.
“We are always pushing our kids to be more like Malcom Mitchell,” Rodemaker said. “When someone asks me about Malcolm Mitchell, I don’t talk about the wide receiver or the athlete. I talk about the man.”
Along with speakers Dr. Cason and Rodemaker, Mayor John Gayle read a proclamation declaring March 6 Malcolm Mitchell Day and presented Mitchell with a key to the city.
“Mitchell is a winner on and off of the field,” Gayle said. “We are honored to give you this key in recognition of your athletic achievement as a Valdosta Wildcat, Georgia Bulldog and New England Patriot and appreciation of your dedication to transform young lives through literacy.”
At the end of the event, Mitchell spoke about the honors awarded to him.
“There’s no better feeling than sharing the triumph and victories with people that were there for you in the beginning,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell ended his speech with another message.
“As I look at my life now, I’m only 23 years old,” Mitchell said. “I’m an author and a Super Bowl champion, but if I don’t achieve anything more in my life, I will be a failure. This means that I got too complacent, and I got too comfortable, because I let the victory stop me from going even further. So if I had to send a message today, it would be to encourage everybody to dig deep within them and ask yourselves ,’are you doing the best that you can,’ because in life that is all you can be.”