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Mitchell is example for Huggins' talk

May 22, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE

West Virginia University men's basketball coach Bob Huggins came to Hagerstown on Thursday with a simple recipe for success.

Huggins was the keynote speaker at the 19th Boys & Girls Club of Washington County Steak & Burger dinner with a message to the youth in attendance: "Wake up every morning with enthusiasm and do the best you can do."

Kirksten Mitchell has put that message to good use, beginning in her early days at the club. On Thursday, Mitchell was awarded the Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year honor.

"I was 7 when I joined and it shows how far I've come growing into a young lady," said Mitchell, one of North Hagerstown's star basketball players.

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Mitchell, who just signed for a scholarship to play basketball at Division I Coppin State in Baltimore, gives credit to the Boys & Girls Club for her upbringing.

"The club put me on the right path," said Mitchell, who is a camp counselor with the club. "I really started growing up coming into my teen years and began to learn about life when others in my age group were dropping out of school or were pregnant."

Mitchell, who surpassed 1,000 points in her career and carries a 3.2 grade point average at North, received a $1,000 scholarship donated by the Aarsand Family foundation.

Other individuals recognized by the club's other units were: Amanda Delauder (Cascade), Devon McCarty (Hancock), Jasmine Briscoe (Frederick Manor), Armondo Cerda (Elgin Station) and Marcus Smith (Noland Village).

Huggins spent the better part of 90 minutes signing autographs for fans of all ages -- some who were just young enough to only know "someone important" was in the house.

"You go to these things to support what they do," said Huggins, who said he recently spoke at two Boy Scout programs. "We need to support our kids. They don't get out and interact enough like we did growing up. This is our future. This kids will run things."

Huggins, a native of Morgantown, W.Va., played for West Virginia from 1975-77. He followed with a head coaching career that started at tiny Walsh College in Alliance, Ohio before heading to Akron, Cincinnati and Kansas State before returning home to coach the Mountaineers in 2007.

He owns a 637-230 coaching record, including 399-127 at Cincinnati where spent 16 seasons and a berth in the Final four in 1991-92.

As the Ohio Player of the Year in 1972 when he led his Indian Valley South team to a 26-0 record and state Class A title, Huggins never envisioned his future as a coach.

Following his college days he was cut by the Philadelphia 76ers.

"I didn't know what I was going to do," he said. "I thought about law school."

Huggins went on to West Virginia as a graduate assistant and then to Ohio State before getting his break as a head coach at Walsh, then a small NAIA school.

"The people (at Walsh) were wonderful, but you knew you had aspirations to do bigger things," he said.

And even after a tumultuous departure from Cincinnati, sitting out one year and then heading to Kansas State, Huggins got his chance of a lifetime coming back home.

"It was hard to leave Kansas State," Huggins said. "The people were fantastic. But I knew this would be my last opportunity."

Huggins said he has four recruits for next season, including 6-foot-4 guard Casey Mitchell, the national Junior College Player of the Year, who should help fill some big needs for the Mountaineers.

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