Sometimes an athlete steps on the field and it is just clear there is something special about them. It may be talent, attitude, knowledge of the game or a strong work ethic. If a coach is very lucky, it’s all three. Cheslyn Mitchell, a junior outfielder on the Pitt State softball team, is one of those special athletes.
A talented athlete, Mitchell earned All-MIAA honors as a freshman. She is a positive person who is well liked by her teammates, coaches and fans. She is a strong, coachable hitter and a quick outfielder who also was able to fill in at pitcher when needed, showing her knowledge of the game. Her work ethic is clear in her success, and a strong work ethic and ability to adapt has been a necessity her whole life.
When she was 3, Mitchell’s parents took her to a doctor in Kansas City where she was diagnosed with a hearing impairment due to problem in the inner ear and nerve damage. Mitchell’s parents chose not to dwell on the cause, but set to work making up for any development lags due to her hearing impairment and helping her adapt so she could live life to the fullest.
“Catching up has been a long process. We have battled and continued to battle each year,” Mitchell said. “My parents have helped me so much. My school helped me by adapting and getting me the help that I needed to keep up.”
As she grew up playing sports, Mitchell’s coaches have also made minor adaptations to help deal with her hearing impairment on the field. Things as simple as looking directly at her when speaking, adapting signs and being patient have helped her become the player she is today.
Having done her best to make sure her hearing impairment was not a hindrance, Mitchell got the grades she needed and had the kind of high school athletic career that earned her a spot of the Pittsburg State softball team. It was a dream come true for the Riverton, Kan., native.
“I knew I wanted to play softball at the collegiate level,” Mitchell said. “Getting to play for Pitt State is like the icing on the cake! PSU is a great school and has a wonderful tradition in its athletics programs, but more importantly, it’s a great place to get a quality education.”
As a freshman, pitching and playing the outfield, Mitchell was the team’s second-leading hitter, hitting .405 on the season behind only three-time All-American Manny DeCastro. She led the team in doubles and was the only member of the pitching staff with a winning record at 7-3.
Mitchell looked primed for a repeat performance in 2013. She was hitting .313, opened the season with a seven-game hitting streak and was working hard as the starting left fielder. That ended on March 29, just over midway through the season, when a collision with the Northwest Missouri catcher at home plate left Mitchell with a broken leg.
The rehab process was supposed to be six months, and put Mitchell back on the field with her team last fall. Unfortunately, some set backs and extra surgery delayed her rehab and she was not cleared to start softball workouts until January.
“(The injury) is really sort of a blur for me, a part I would rather forget and let go,” Mitchell said. “But I do remember the tremendous outpouring of support from my teammates, coaches, friends and family right after and during my injury. I would especially like to thank the PSU Athletics Training staff, coaches, teammates, faculty, family and friends for their continued support throughout this rough time in my life.”
Now Mitchell is ready to get back on the field, fight for a starting spot again and help her team achieve its goals in anyway that she can. She knows if she works hard every day to perform her role on the team, the team will be able to achieve its goals, and in turn, any personal honors that come will be because she did her bet for her team.
“I am looking forward to being with my teammates and coaches as we start our hard work toward meeting our team goals,” Mitchell said. “I am just so happy and blessed to be back!”