Raiders rookie safety Mike Mitchell poses for a photo with a St. Catherine of Siena School student.
St. Catherine of Siena School in Martinez, Calif., recently suffered the loss of one of their former students, Darius Jones, who collapsed and died while playing basketball. After finishing at St. Catherine of Siena, Jones enrolled at De La Salle High School where he was a freshman.
"It was a demoralizing event and a depressing week for the school community," said St. Catherine of Siena School Principal Andrew von Haunalter. Needing an emotional boost, the students looked forward to the visit and inspirational talk by Raiders' safety Mike Mitchell.
Upon arriving at the school, Mitchell spoke to the student body, ranging from K-8th grade, about the importance faith has played in his life, pursuing one's own dreams, and staying focused and working hard to achieve those dreams. Mitchell then answered all of the students' questions, ranging from his favorite cartoon, to the number of tackles he has in the NFL, to the most influential person in his life.
The students were engaged and excited to be able to interact so closely with an NFL player. "[The kids] see them on TV a lot and read about them so to actually see them as people is significant," said Principal von Haunalter.
Following the question and answer session, Mitchell stayed during the lunch hour to sign and personalize autographs for all of the students. Excited students waited patiently as the line for autographs spanned the entire room. The students and Mitchell left the room with enormous smiles on their faces.
Mitchell said, "This is what I really want to be doing along with football… coming out and talking to kids because they're the future and just talking to these guys and letting them know a little about me and putting the message out there that you can do anything if you have the right mindset and focus for it."
Mitchell hopes the students take away the importance of chasing their dreams. He believes strongly that people are capable of achieving anything they desire.
The rookie out of Ohio University made a powerful connection with the students of St. Catherine of Siena School, when they needed it most.