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CoSIDA Special Awards Salute: Chris Mitchell, Washington University, Warren Berg Award

CoSIDA Special Awards Salute: Chris Mitchell, Washington University, Warren Berg Award


As SIDs, we all take pride in our jobs and what we do. But some, like Chris Mitchell, do it with a little more passion and dedication.

For the last 17 years, Mitchell, the Assistant Athletics Director for Communications at Washington University in St. Louis, has been at the forefront of promoting the Bears’ athletic programs. And while his coaches and student-athletes give him plenty of material to work with, it’s his willingness to go beyond what is expected that makes him stand out.

He bleeds red and green and dedicates himself to promoting WashU with the professionalism that is admired by many. 
“WashU has been a special place for me for 17 years,” Mitchell said. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with outstanding student-athletes and great coaches. And I’ve been fortunate that we’ve had a lot of success during my time here that has enabled me to travel the United States and cover some national championship teams.”

WashU is known for its championship-caliber programs as well as its outstanding student-athletes, who are not only great in their sport, but excel in the classroom – a rare combination in intercollegiate athletics. During his 17 years at WashU, the athletic program has won 11 national championships, with 104 of its student-athletes earning CoSIDA Academic All-America® honors.

“There is nothing like being with a team that is chasing a championship. Having the opportunity to be with our student-athletes and coaches in the postseason is one of the most exciting parts of my job,” he said. “And the student-athletes at WashU are the true definition of a student-athlete. We have some pretty exceptional kids that go on to do bigger and better things that I can only dream of.”
WashU has 19 sports and Mitchell serves as the primary contact for football, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s basketball, softball and men’s and women’s tennis, but he treats them all the same, whether they are a high profile sport or not.

“I played college tennis at McKendree and tennis is not a sport that is traditionally covered like football or basketball. So I’ve always told myself that no matter the sport I’m covering, I’m going to treat them all the same,” Mitchell noted. “A Top 25 win for the men’s tennis program is the same in my eyes as a Top 25 win for the softball team. I try to give it my all in every release I do and try to include something that makes it different than the previous one I wrote.”

With WashU women’s soccer head coach Jim Conlon in Salem, Va. celebrating the Bears’ 2016 NCAA Division III National Championship.
With WashU women’s soccer head coach Jim Conlon in Salem, Va. celebrating the Bears’ 2016 NCAA Division III National Championship. 
Mitchell’s passion and dedication also goes beyond his job at WashU. It overflows into what he does for CoSIDA and the Goodwill and Wellness Committee, which he is in his third year of chairing. He got involved with the committee in 2011 when St. Louis served as the host city for the annual convention and was the birthplace of the CoSIDA 5K fun run/walk, which has now turned into an annual event for CoSIDA and NACDA convention attendees look forward to.   

“Being part of the Goodwill and Wellness Committee is an awesome way to give back,” Mitchell said. “And while I’ve been more involved with the 5K, it’s the community service project that is one of my favorite parts of CoSIDA each year. I’m thankful that I’ve been blessed in life, so it’s an opportunity to hopefully make a difference in someone else’s life.”
With all of the success he has had in his career, it’s hard to imagine Mitchell not being an SID. But there was a time when he wanted to be a high school math teacher. However, as a sophomore at McKendree University, he took an aptitude test that showed he really liked sports and it was recommended that he work in the sports information office. There were no openings in the SID office his junior year, but his senior year, he was hired by then-sports information director Stacey Montooth and Mitchell found what he was meant to do.
“I’m a big numbers guy, I like numbers,” he said. “That’s why I initially wanted to be a math teacher, but being in sports information is also a numbers field with all the different stats.”
After that initial start as a student at McKendree, he was hired by Scott Cummings to be a part-time assistant, which then led to an internship at Duke and then his first full-time job at WashU.
“I couldn’t imagine my life not in athletics. I always think about what I would be doing if I were not an SID and I honestly do not know the answer. I love what I do and I probably think about my job too much, but it’s kept me at WashU for 17 years.”
There’s no doubt that had Mitchell become a math teacher, he’d still be a positive influence and mentor to many young people. But, luckily for the student-athletes and coaches at WashU (and for me, who never would have met him if it weren’t for this profession!), he changed his major in college.