For four years, Lora Mitchell has had two main duties on game day for the GW women’s basketball team.
Whenever the Colonials have found themselves in a bit of a lull on the court or without much pop in their step, it has been Mitchell who has been up off the bench shouting some life into her teammates. After a big basket, it is always Mitchell keeping the momentum going.
And this year, before each game even begins, it has also been Mitchell’s job to wait at the end of the introduction line and give each starter a chest bump when her name is announced. She has supported the starters every game this year, except for Saturday – because this time, Lora Mitchell was a starter herself.
A fan favorite throughout GW’s 66-27 win over Fordham, Mitchell was effective right from the tip, scoring all three of her points in the game’s first minute and adding a pair of rebounds and steals during her career-high 12 minutes.
But while senior day was her 51st game in a buff and blue uniform and only the first time she heard her name reverberate off the Smith Center walls during the starting lineup, Mitchell’s mark on Foggy Bottom extends beyond the box score. She’s twice been the recipient of the Colonials’ “Unsung Hero” award – and that honor has not been given out yet this year.
“It’s the way for the coaching staff and everyone else to recognize you and say that you do contribute,” she said.
In high school, Mitchell averaged 13.4 points 11.2 rebounds per game as a senior as part of the Mountain View Bruins. The Orem, Utah, native also competed on the volleyball and track teams, and was named to Street & Smith’s Honorable Mention All-America and Nike Tournament of Champions Teams for her basketball skills.
But upon arriving at GW, Mitchell was just another Colonial in a talented queue of players head coach Joe McKeown had recruited. She played behind such stalwarts as Jessica Simmonds and Jessica Adair and was overshadowed by classmate Kim Beck. But Mitchell’s significance to the squad has not been lost on her teammates, McKeown said, and is evidenced by the roar of support the GW players give Mitchell every time she sets foot on the floor.
“Every day she brings something positive to practice,” he said. “She doesn’t get a lot of playing time but never complained, and was really a tremendous role model for a lot of people on this team.”
What outlines everything the 6-foot-1 forward does is her commitment to GW. Making a decision to attend a top-25 program instead of being the star at a lower program, she said she has always been proud to play for such a quality team and hasn’t been too bothered by the lesser playing time. Mitchell, who is rumored to be able to dunk a basketball but never has in a game, can easily describe her role on the Colonial squad.
“As a player, my mindset is team,” she said. “Everything and anything that I can do, I would do for this team.”
A double-major in psychology and political science, Mitchell said she does not know what her plans are after graduating. But McKeown has no doubts that in any field, his “unsung hero” is going to be successful.
McKeown said, “Whatever she decides to do, she’s going to do well.”