Brandi Mitchell played soccer for four-plus decades before making the kick of her life.
This pied piper of local women’s soccer wound up and firmly booted self-doubt.
“I thought, ‘This is crazy,’” she said.
She was right, but there’s nothing wrong about her suiting up for San Diego Miramar College.
Mitchell, 45, has female teammates half her age but, like her, they are full of vigor.
San Diego Soccer Women is Mitchell’s beautiful way to connect women. She’s formed North County leagues and conducted training sessions for women 30 and older, helping to extend their minutes on the pitch.
The hands of time concerned Mitchell, who had played in high school, before signing off on her collegiate endeavor.
A knee injury and the pandemic had sidelined her for two years. Then she enrolled in a summer soccer coaching class and someone mentioned an opening on the Miramar Jets soccer roster.
“I knew I was good enough to be out there,” Mitchell said.
“Privately,” she said, “I thought about what if I humiliate myself, miss every ball and can’t keep up.”
Mitchell’s first inclination hit the back of the net, but only after she dropped 25 pounds over 20 weeks. Mitchell was named a co-captain and starter at midfield for the Jets.
“We are similar in age,” Miramar coach Stephanie Beall said. “I admire her courage and bravery to accept this challenge.”
Mitchell has kept up with the young ’uns, while watching her 18-year-old son. Maverick Mitchell, who played water polo at Westview High, is on Miramar’s squad.
That’s two Mitchells in one athletic department, a pair of freshmen some 27 years apart.
“My mom has played soccer all her life,” Maverick said. “But for me it is super weird because it is my mom. I didn’t know she could do this at this level.”
Mitchell is contributing in areas that don’t reveal themselves on the statistical sheet.
She’s always been passionate about providing opportunities for women to play recreational soccer. This is another way for Mitchell to beat her drum.
For some reason, men’s leagues flourish and women’s ones, not so much.
“If I’m running errands and wearing my shin guards, no one ever thinks that’s I’m playing,” she said. “They think my kid plays, or that I’m a coach or referee.”
So, Mitchell blows the whistle to keep soccer alive for women around San Diego County and Southern California.
“I’m always an advocate for soccer for older women,” she said.
Hanging with the kids is all right, too, even if one has to squint to find Miramar victories.
“All these young women are out here working harder than I am, considering everything they have going on in their lives,” Mitchell said.
Scoring is an issue for the Jets.
“If we see the whites of the goalie’s eyes,” Mitchell said, “we consider that a goal.”
The Jets, who play at Palomar College on Friday, dropped their first nine games and in eight of them, they were blanked.
Mitchell shrugs, with a view of the big picture, knowing lessons can come in defeat.
“She brings a different perspective to the team that we all greatly benefit from,” Beall said.
Mitchell marches on, checking off dreams along the way.
Her chance for soccer after high school at the Air Force Academy was derailed by a balky knee. Yet Mitchell is finally a collegiate player.
All the better, at any age, that it’s with the Jets.