Prep Baseball

Gable Mitchell balances three sports at City High

HS journalism: Baseball is No. 1, but wrestling and football get focus during seasons

Iowa City High shortstop Gable Mitchell trains for baseball year-round, but also competes in football and wrestling. He
Iowa City High shortstop Gable Mitchell trains for baseball year-round, but also competes in football and wrestling. He is the grandson of Dan Gable and son of Brian and Jenni (Gable) Mitchell. Brian is a former professional baseball player and City High’s coach. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — A bat cracks as a baseball flies off it, kicking up dirt as it bounces at a high speed between second and third bases.

Laser-focused, City High sophomore Gable Mitchell tracks the ball with his eyes as it streaks toward him. The ball hits his mitt with a resounding thud. He launches the ball, reaching 84 miles per hour, to get the ball to first for an out.

“I love competing, and doing sports throughout the year allows me to do so,” Mitchell said. “I just love what I do.”

Mitchell, who has been playing baseball since he was 7 years old, also competes in football and wrestling at City High. His primary position in baseball is shortstop, whose job it is to fill in the infield between second and third base.

“The worst part is losing, (but) the best is competing with teammates and pushing each other to be the best,” Mitchell said.

While he only practices football and wrestling when they are in season, Mitchell continues to practice baseball year-round. Even in the spring, when none of his sports are in season, he continues to train.

“You could call it an offseason but that is when my training really picks up to prepare for the season,” he said.

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During this time, Mitchell trains at the City High and Regina indoor facilities, working to improve his glove work as well as his footwork by jumping rope and doing ladder and cone drills.

“The similarities (between the sports) for me are the idea of working harder than everyone else and being the best at each one, as well as making teammates and myself better,” he said.

Though Mitchell does three sports, each of them requires different skills and talents, making balancing all three difficult.

“The main difference is the physicality of each sport,” he said. “(In) baseball you are working to hit or field a ball, while in football and wrestling you are either trying to hit someone really hard or take them down.”

Mitchell has been coached by his father, Brian Mitchell, from the beginning. Brian started coaching at City High in 2012 when he left the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

“(It) started really when he was 7 in baseball,” Brian said. “He was 8 when I started at City, which made it more challenging, but I always helped in the offseason and during the season when I could.”

Though Brian enjoys coaching his son in baseball, he also acknowledges it comes with certain challenges.

“The biggest (challenge) is making sure everyone knows favoritism isn’t part of the equation,” Brain said. “For that, he probably takes the brunt of some things maybe he shouldn’t have to, but that’s what comes with the territory for him.”

Wrestling also been a part of Gable’s life, but it’s his most challenging sport.

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“Wrestling (is the hardest) for sure because of all that goes into training, like conditioning and hard work,” Gable said. “You have to be mentally tough to wrestle.”

Gable’s mother, Jenni Mitchell, is the daughter of Dan Gable, an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling and former University of Iowa wrestling coach.

“He has been around wrestling from day one,” Brian said. “We are a sports family so he has gotten to experience a lot, which has helped mold his interest, I’m sure.”

From the environment his mother grew up in, Brain and Jenni have high expectations for Gable.

“His mom isn’t used to and doesn’t like losing, so keeping the expectation of training hard and competing as hard as possible is helpful,” Brian said. “We talk often about leadership, and helping those around him to develop is equally as important.”

Gable’s main focus is baseball. He trains offseason for hours at a time at North Dodge Athletic Club, City and Regina.

“If I’m training for in-fielding I start with footwork drills such as jump roping, ladder drills, cone drills, et cetera and then I do glove work drills,” Gable said.

As for how he balances football and wrestling with baseball, he focuses on one at a time — except baseball.

“Baseball is basically all year for me because I train for that during all seasons,” Gable said. “Whether that is baseball, football or wrestling I’m most focused on that and work on that the most.”

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In this past football season, Brian noticed the leadership skills he and Jenni instilled in Gable paying off.

“He has continued to get stronger and has improved his leadership skills in athletics,” Brian said. “(I) especially noticed this during this past football season.”

One of the things about sports Gable enjoys is the team aspect of sports and how he can grow close to people through one shared activity.

“In wrestling, when your teammates are right there next to the mat screaming ... you really feel their presence,” Gable said.

Gable’s experience with doing multiple sports has led him to believe in the merit of trying new things, even if they aren’t guaranteed to work out.

“Go out even if you are unsure, because odds are you will like the sport,” he said. “What sports teach you and being a part of a competitive environment is something not worth missing out on. You might end up being really good at it, too.”

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