Richmond Hill High School soccer player Mitch Doud signed a letter of intent to attend Georgia Southwestern University on a soccer scholarship on Friday in the media center of the high school.
Mitch is the current team captain of the Wildcat soccer team. The Cats just wrapped up a phenomenal season and have high hopes as they enter the region tournament, which kicks off today on Wildcat Field with a first round match against Thomson High School.
Mitch’s father, Jim Doud, said his son has always had a competitive nature.
"When he was 8 years old, he asked his mother why he wasn’t born first," Jim said. "Yes, he’s very competitive. And very athletic - his third word was ‘ball’, after ‘mom’ and ‘dad.’"
"We have him on video dribbling the basketball when he was 18 months old," added his mother, Jania Doud. "He played multiple sports growing up, but he finally decided on soccer as one to focus on year-round."
Mitch’s dad was his first soccer coach, coaching him from levels U6 through U12 in the Richmond Hill Recreation leagues.
"He’s always been driven," said Jim of his son’s dedication to the soccer field. "He would actually complain if I cut practice down because he wanted the team to get better and better."
"He just understood the game and where the players should be," he added. "I always put him in the middle of the field because he could keep the younger kids in front of him in check and also help the defense when they needed it."
Jim Doud said he got to a point when it became clear to him that his son "was growing past my ability to improve him, so we decided to move up to a Select Club in Savannah to someone who knew more about soccer than I did. I had to step back, which was easy to do because I knew he was going way past where I was."
Mitch quickly excelled in the Club circuit, gaining the respect of fellow players and Club coach Rob Weisel.
"Mitch has a soccer player’s mind," said Weisel. "He’s real good technically and passes real well. Beyond that, he’s a real calming force in the midfield - real composed, doesn’t get rattled. His composure passes on to others, and the rest of the team looks to him for it. He’s been vital to our success in the last couple of years."
RHHS head coach Wade Wright said Mitch has a similar effect on the Wildcats.
"Ever since he walked onto Wildcat Field, he’s shown all the same characteristics Coach Weisel just talked about," Wright said. "Even when he wasn’t the captain, Mitch was a team leader. He did it very quietly and very efficiently."
Wright said that Mitch is a rare breed in regard to his maturity level when it comes to the game.
"This year especially, I’ve gone to him many a time, even during a game, and asked him ‘what do we feel?’ or ‘what adjustments do we need to make?’ He is the epitome of what a student of soccer is and that’s why he’s had the level of success he’s had thus far," said Wright.
As Mitch is about to embark on an experience with Georgia Southwestern, the university just moved up to Division II, and Coach Barry Kaplan has been scouting out some players to make an impact on that level. Mitch, with a solid local record, fit that mold when he first encountered the coach several months ago.
"This school has ideal facilities and great academic programs," Mitch said. "Combined with a stellar soccer program, that makes it a great school overall."
Mitch hasn’t put his finger on a career goal yet, but is "looking into the liberal studies program where I’m going into to find out what I really want to do."
As for college-level soccer, Mitch’s outlook is a bright one.
"I feel confident," said Mitch. "I look forward to gaining this new exposure to the game. I plan on working harder in order to improve and get smarter on the field."