United States athlete Patrick Mitchell hopes to become another international success story for the Sydney Swans after securing an international rookie listing at the club in 2014.
The 24-year-old from Des Moine, Iowa is aiming to follow in the footsteps of Swans’ international rookies including Canadian Mike Pyke and Irishman Tadhg Kennelly, as well as Tommy Walsh, who was previously rookie listed by St Kilda.
When asked whether he believed he had what it took to make the transition into AFL football, Mitchell’s response was simple.
“Absolutely,” Mitchell told sydneyswans.com.au
“I think I can make it, but it’s going to be with a lot of hard work.
“I want to be really good at this sport and I understand the hard work that it’s going to take.
“I just look forward to improving every day and really seeing just how good I can get.”
The 201cm and 107kg athlete, who played college basketball for the University of North Dakota, is expected to arrive at the club in October to begin training.
Mitchell said he was already working on his skills back home and couldn’t wait to arrive in Australia to begin training with the Swans.
“I’ve already started training at home and I’m just working on my running and kicking and a bit of weight training,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve been able to pick them up pretty well, but I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work.
“I’m looking forward to getting there and I know I’m going to have to start training as soon as I arrive.”
Mitchell visited the club in early July alongside fellow other US hopefuls Mark Cisco and Jason Holmes, who were also vying for a place on the Swans’ rookie list.
Swans coach John Longmire said the club was impressed with Mitchell’s athletic capabilities as well as his determination to learn the game during his time at the club.
“Obviously what we’ve seen with Mike Pyke coming to our footy club is that there is potential for players who haven’t got a background in AFL football to develop and have an opportunity to play league football if they have the right mindset, are prepared to work, and have some athletic talent,” Longmire told sydneyswans.com.au.
“We think that’s what Patrick has got – a combination of all of those.
“He’s over 200cm tall, he’s extremely athletic, he’s got a huge vertical leap, but he’s got a lot to learn.
“He’s been most impressive in all the time he’s spent here, both with Paul Roos and with us, and he seems like his work rate will be huge.
“He’s a really determined young man and he’s prepared to give it absolutely everything he’s got.”
Longmire said Mitchell would arrive at the club during the off-season while the playing group were taking time off.
“We’re going to work out what his program will be in the coming weeks,” he said.
“The players will be away in that period, which will be a good opportunity for him to pick up the finer parts of the game.”
With his arrival just under three months away, Mitchell said he was looking forward to experiencing summer in Sydney and escaping Iowa’s harsh winter climate.
“It’s a lot different. I live in Des Moine, Iowa and there is no ocean or anything,” he said.
“When I was in Sydney that was the biggest difference, but I loved it.
“It was winter when we were in Sydney but we were still on the beach every day so I can’t wait to get back to the warm weather.”
Mitchell’s rookie listing, as part of the Basil Sellers International Recruitment Program, will see the American remain on the Swans’ list until the end of the 2015 season.