Sophomore middle blocker Amari Mitchell is poised and determined to have a standout season in her second year as a UCA Sugar Bear.
“Volleyball is my passion,” Mitchell said. “Most of my time is spent with my teammates, whether it’s just bonding and hanging out together, or working to improve our game.”
Mitchell’s volleyball career began back in her home of Arlington, Texas.
Initially, she played at a local YMCA, but she started to take the game more seriously as a high school freshman. She also joined a club volleyball team, a travel team aimed at training and providing exposure for high school athletes.
As she expanded her game, she became more comfortable with volleyball and became a starter her junior year at Mansfield Timberview High School in Arlington.
While there, she was named Defensive Player of the Year, selected for the All-District First Team, recognized as an Academic All-District player and designated a spot in the All-Tournament Team at Nationals.
After UCA reached out to her, she decided to become a Sugar Bear because of the program’s dedication and commitment, she said.
“They came off as the most serious and committed of any school about their volleyball program,” Mitchell said. “So after convincing my parents to bring me for a visit, I decided this was where I wanted to be.”
In her first year at UCA, Mitchell helped the Sugar Bears reach the conference championship, a major goal for the program.
“Last year was great for us as a team. We set our goals before the season, and we definitely met them,” Mitchell said. “That experience we gained from that will only help us moving forward.”
Mitchell said she is looking to enhance her overall game and raise her contribution level from last season.
“My freshman season here was a pretty good one, individually, but I know I can do more,” she said. “I just remain positive through ups and downs and develop my game where I can.”
Volleyball coach Jeni Chatman said she has seen those improvements firsthand.
“Amari has definitely improved her work ethic and ability to take in information and apply it,” Chatman said. “It is night and day from last year. Just by making those changes, it has increased her volleyball IQ tremendously, as well as her efficiency, kill percentage and blocks per set.”
Beyond this season, Chatman believes Mitchell can become a team leader in these categories and develop into a “go-to” player for the Sugar Bears.
“I’m looking forward to more years with Amari here in our program. She brings an incredible sense of humor and perspective to all she does,” Chatman said.
Mitchell also voiced her excitement on upcoming games and being a part of the Governor’s I-40 Showdown.
“[The Showdown is] something we are for sure looking forward to,” Mitchell said. “The standard is to whip them out.”
Photo by Marley Cash-Powell