Young at heart
MHC keeps Don Mitchell coming back
Sports may be what attracted Don Mitchell to Medicine Hat Junior College over 40 years ago, but it’s the sense of community that has kept him coming back.
The year was 1969 when MHC first offered a university transfer physical education program. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Mitchell.
“Sports. Sports. Sports. My whole life was sports. That’s what led me to the college,” said Mitchell who played all the school sports, except football, as well as competitive track and swimming.
“I knew whatever I did would have to be something with sports and kids.”
As a high school student he remembers sneaking up to the north end of Medicine Hat High School where MHJC was housed, just to get a look.
“I was a snoopy guy,” Mitchell admitted with a laugh.
This curiosity for college life would eventually take him to the mysterious north side of Hat High where he would become the first in his family to pursue a post-secondary education, setting a precedent for his four younger siblings.
Although the physical location of the college was the same as high school, Mitchell recalled the experience as being very different. Classmates shared common interests and travelled together through their programs. He also played basketball for the MHJC Antelopes under the leadership of Arnold Frank in what was a very successful inaugural year for the team. Many of the relationships Mitchell built during his time as college student and athlete have been maintained to this day.
“Everyone knew everyone. It was very local. There were no cliques, no gangs, everyone got along. I feel very lucky to have been part of this era. What an opportunity!”
Mitchell completed his first year of physical education and went on to the University of Calgary and later the University of Alberta to complete his teaching certificate. He returned to southeast Alberta in 1974 to begin his teaching career. After a year in Bow Island, he moved to his old stomping ground – Medicine Hat High School - where he taught for 14 years. The following 10 years were spent at Vincent Massey and his career wrapped up at Alexandra Junior High in 2000.
These days, Mitchell is a still a regular at MHC and can be found working out in the weight room three times a week – just one of the many perks of registering as an alumni.
“MHC is a good place to be. The kids are so good, so polite. They treat me well. I like being around young people. It keeps you young.
“I love coming here and being part of it. It’s a social place, a meeting place. I’m not ready for coffee at the mall just yet,” joked Mitchell.