So far, Pride football is off to a great start to the season with an undefeated record, and recent big win over rival school Cardinal Gibbons. This year, there are new faces on the football team, from the coaching staff to the players.
Among the new players is Mitchell Mayes, a Senior and right tackle for the Pride.
Mayes transferred to Leesville halfway through the 2018-2019 school year. It’s hard to miss Mayes when you pass him in the hallway or see him out on the football field, standing at 6’4’’ and 306 pounds his presence can’t go unnoticed. His size, athletic ability, and skill earned him the title of number two overall recruit in North Carolina, as well as, the number three ranked offensive guard in the country.
Back in March, Mayes committed to Clemson University to continue his academic and football career. “It [Clemson] was just the best of all aspects I was looking for — the best academics for me, the best football obviously. And I just love the coaching staff, and the players are really great,” Said Mayes
However, before his commitment, Mayes received over twenty scholarship offers, most of which were Division 1 schools including: NC State, Duke, Mississippi State, Syracuse, Auburn, and UGA –to name a few.
Becoming a D1 athlete is not an easy feat, it takes serious commitment. Mayes started his football journey back in middle school. “My dad wanted me to play in seventh grade just for fun, and if I didn’t like it he wasn’t going to make me play, but he just wanted to see what I could do and if I liked it,” said Mayes.
Ever since then Mayes has invested himself in getting better everyday.
Behind the scenes Mayes’ continually pushes himself. To his coaches, several aspects stand out: “His work-ethic. He is always trying to do extra work, trying to improve on his weaknesses,” said Ben Kolstad, head coach for the varsity football team.
His teammates also speak very highly of Mayes. “Mitchell always pushes you to be the best you can be. He sets the standard high therefore you want to meet the standard he is at,” said Trey Baker, senior and quarterback.
On the team Mayes is a respected leader, especially of the offensive line, he is often making sure everyone is where they need to be while also setting a prime example himself.
Throughout his journey, Mayes’ family is by his side with their endless support. “Football is at the center of much that we do…much that we are. Our family loves everything about football — the excitement of attending games, the spirit of competition, the joy of watching Mitchell and his teammates mature and grow in the sport, the bonds and camaraderie that it forms among the players, their families, and the fans and of course the life lessons it teaches/character it builds when things don’t go your way,” said Mrs. Mayes.
His passion for football drives him the most. “Mitchell is 100% dedicated to playing football. It is his life’s passion. If he is not playing football, he is practicing, training, or studying film to better his game,” said Sya Mayes, Mitchell’s mother, via email. Knowing he’s leaving it all on the field or in the weight room is enough reward for Mayes. Not only does his passion for football drive him on the field, but also in the classroom. “…playing football actually strengthened Mitchell’s commitment to his studies,” said Mrs. Mayes.
With a love for the game, and the grind, Mayes knew Clemson was the school for him. As the defending National Champions, Clemson football is no joke. “All the players tell me it’s extremely difficult and I’m going to have a hard time, but I’m just looking forward to it,” said Mayes. But, Mayes is ready for the challenge, “It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be worth it in the end because it makes you a better person and a better man overall not just in football, it’s going to be great,” said Mayes.
To say Mayes’ family is proud of him is an understatement. “Through triumph and adversity, he has never lost faith or sight of who he is. He is highly driven and focused on his goals and puts in the work to achieve them. And equally important, he does so with humility and a sense of gratitude. I could not be more proud!!,” said Mrs. Mayes.
Come out to support Mayes and the rest of the Pride football team every Friday night, this years group is a fun one to watch.