Matthew Mitchell: What I Have Learned

Since the last time I spoke publicly on April 27, much has happened in our program. I have to be honest, there have been some very, very difficult moments these past two weeks. Players transferring, recruits decommitting and a complete turnover of our coaching staff was not what I had hoped for nor expected at the end of the 2015-16 season. All of that happening put our remaining players, our remaining staff, the media and our loyal and devoted fans in a state of confusion. 

I have had to look in the mirror and ask myself an important question, “How did all of this happen?” How could we have success in the classroom, in our community and on the court during the 2015-16 season and simultaneously have players and coaches wanting to leave at an alarming rate?  

While it’s impossible for me to know every detail, what I do know is this: through all of the upheaval and all of the painful moments, I have learned lessons that will stay with me forever and will ultimately make me a much better coach. 

Among the many things that I have learned in this experience, there is one that really sticks out that I want to share with you. Upon much reflection, I now know that over the past four years there were certain things that I thought had become automatic in our program because of our previous success. I’m not talking about “kicking back, not working and believing things would just happen” kind of automatic. Many players, coaches and support staff have worked very hard over the past four years. We achieved results in the classroom and on the court that most programs would be very pleased with. 

What I now clearly see is my failure to get what was in my head and in my heart to enough people to prevent something like this from happening. Good intentions are worthless if they are not communicated effectively. I needed to be more involved in the details of our success and communicate that to people more effectively. I am grateful to so many people who have taken the time to listen, provide constructive criticism and share wisdom gained from their experience in an effort to help me improve.  

I am grateful to the countless number of people in the Lexington community and around the country who have supported me during this difficult stretch. I have received prayers, handwritten notes, phone calls, text messages, people just stopping me for a word of encouragement, you name it. I have had incredible support and I am so very thankful for that! During the most difficult times, those words of encouragement and the strength I gain from God have kept my vision clear.  

While I know I can and will improve, I also know that the foundation of this program is very strong. We will be more committed than ever to our program’s Winning Tools: Honesty, Hard Work and Discipline, and use those tools to improve our program and make it stronger than ever before. 

Our players, their parents, our staff and our administration are determined to make this program better than ever. We will not give in to negativity. We will not be discouraged by rumors of some scandal that does not exist. We will stay laser-focused on building our roster for 2016-17, diligently planning and organizing for a great summer of growth and communicating all of the positive realities that exist at Kentucky. I have never been more determined to get our program to the top. We will get there! 

Thanks to everyone in the Big Blue Nation who has shown their unwavering support. The players who have stayed together with us through this tough time gain strength from your love. You are a huge part of why they are here and they need you. Please keep it coming, BBN! We will honor that love and support with an effort that will continue to make you proud of our program.  

Finally, I thank God for giving me this opportunity to grow as a person. I will learn from the lessons He is providing!

‘til the Battle is won!
Matthew Mitchell