Highlander basketball standout, George Mitchell, signed a letter of intent on Thursday to play for East Georgia State College in Swainsboro, GA. Mitchell is following the path of FPCA alumni and pro basketball players, DJ Felder and Jordan Johnson who started their college career at East Georgia.
Mitchell began playing basketball in California at 7 years old. As a military child, Mitchell moved around and eventually made his way to Hinesville and FPCA in the 7th grade. His passion for basketball ignited when he began to play for the Coastal Crew Rebels. There he met legendary coach and mentor, Ernie Walthour, the director of the Rebels and head basketball coach at FPCA. Walthour took Mitchell under his wing and Mitchell thrived. Tragically, in July 2013 Walthour was shot and killed. According to Mitchell's mother, Crystal Lindsey, Walthour's death affected her son deeply. Instead of moving on, Mitchell remained with the Rebels to honor Coach Walthour's legacy. At FPCA, Coach Shane Smith was brought in to pick up the pieces after the devastating loss to the school. Smith was comforting to Mitchell, he knew Smith well and he knew Smith shared his grief. Coach David Linderman remained after Walthour's death, and assisted Smith in building the morale back into the program. Under their care, Mitchell was able to heal and continue his high school career. Mitchell is a two time State champion and an All State and All Region recipient.
East Georgia's Head Coach, Leroy Jordan, was pleased to be signing another Highlander to his team. Jordan said that as a coach he looks at the student first and the athlete later. He stated, "Mitchell is coming from a great start at FPCA and I thank the FPCA community for preparing this young man. I am a man of God and my program is run to glorify Him. The transition will be smooth for Mitchell with his background rooted at FPCA. I have had several FPCA alumni throughout the years, and FPCA students come prepared to succeed and display the character I want in my athletes." Jordan described Mitchell as talented and athletic. "Mitchell is one of those rare players that can make his teammates better. He is coachable and communicates well. I expect leadership from him".
FPCA Coach Shane Smith praised Mitchell and his leadership. "Mitchell is versatile. I could put him anywhere on the floor and get the results I needed. He is a team player, assisting as much as he scores. He worked hard and he will be very difficult to replace. It is always a loss to the program as our seniors graduate out, however, filling Mitchell's shoes will be extremely hard." Coach Linderman spoke of Mitchell's character. "Mitchell is a great athlete, but he is more than that. When you ask him for help with something, he never says no. On breaks, Mitchell was at the school, helping fix things and clean up the grounds. He is giving of his time to others. We will miss George and wish him the best of luck."
Mitchell's parents, Gerard and Crystal Lindsey, feel that Walthour's legacy is still evident in their son today. Lindsey stated, "We would not be here, without those early years with Ernie. An angel is still working in George's life today." Lindsey always felt that her son was going to be a basketball player. "When he was in elementary school I would bring him to high school games. He would go out on the court at halftime and just shoot. He accumulated a fan base at those games. His Grandfather was a basketball player, and I see my Dad in George's game." Mr. Lindsey feels that East Georgia will be a good place for his son. "They never fall short in following up on their athletes. He will have access to anything he needs academically. Being with Coach Jordan, a Godly coach, puts me at ease that he is in good hands. Mitchell himself, spoke of his appreciation for everyone that helped him overcome and succeed. "I thank God that I have been blessed with this opportunity. I thank my parents who kept my head on straight throughout it all. I appreciate my coaches who never let me quit and kept me humble."
Mitchell will major in Biology and intends to become an athletic trainer or physical therapist.