FOOTBALL, TRACK & FIELD
He’s been called a coaching icon. He’s been called a coaching legend. Whatever words are used to describe Warren Mitchell, the operative one will always be “coach.” For 58 ½ years, he coached Colorado high school athletes in four sports. And, he did it with love, a sense of community and accomplishment.Mitchell died Nov. 14, 2014, shortly after learning he would be inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. He told friends his greatest worry was what to say in his acceptance speech. Now, his legacy will have to speak for him.
A graduate of Denver West High School, Mitchell attended Colorado State College of Education (now the University of Northern Colorado). He earned his degree in December, 1951 after running track for four years and playing a season of football.
He was hired at Eads High School in the spring of 1952 to teach and coach boys’ basketball. He compiled a 26-7 record before moving to Limon High School in 1953. And it was in Limon where he settled in — for 57 years.
He began as the Eastern Colorado school’s basketball and baseball coach, took over track duties in 1955 and stayed until 2010. He also had a nine-year stint as football coach and was athletic director for a time. His accomplishments as a coach inspired the descriptions of “icon” and “legend.”
As the boys’ basketball coach, he compiled a 25-year record of 373-155 (.706), winning four state championships. Adding in his Eads mark, his career record was 399-162 (.711) and 17-4 in state playoffs.
In nine years as the Badgers’ football coach, Mitchell compiled a 66-35 record. His 1979 team won a state title and the 1986 squad was state runner-up. Limon qualified for the playoffs seven times.
But, it was in track where Mitchell’s teams made their mark. They won 12 state team championships, finished second four times and had 73 individual (57) or relay (16) state champions, including 15 state records. He coached for 56 seasons, including 13 after he retired from teaching in 1988.
He even added a fifth sport, serving as Limon’s co-head boys’ and girls’ cross-country coach for two seasons at the age of 82.
His career head-coaching record in all sports was 17 state team titles and five runners-up. Mitchell is a member of five halls of fame, including the Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame, National High School Hall of Fame and National High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame. In 2001, Limon built and dedicated the school’s auxiliary gym in his honor.
He was national track coach of the year twice and regional COY four times. He was Colorado’s track Coach of the Year seven times. He was the first coach to receive both the 50- and 55-year awards from CHSAA. He held every office possible in the CHSCA and served on numerous CHSAA and school committees.
Mitchell may not get to give his acceptance speech, but his legacy speaks volumes.
His accomplishments as a coach inspired the descriptions of “icon” and “legend.”