Local Football Fan Sees Dream Come True
By Tevin Stinson
While growing up in East Winston, Rayvon Mitchell always had aspirations of signing a contract to play professional football and recently his wish came true.
After years of playing and studying the game, at the young age of 58 Mitchell’s dream became a reality when he signed a one-day contract to join the Winston-Salem Wildcats, the city’s indoor football team that competes in the southern division of the AIF (American Indoor Football) league. Mitchell is the oldest player on record to sign a contract to play professional football.
Before signing the contract, Mitchell said it feels great to live out one of his childhood dreams. He said, “Although it’s just for one day, I can always say I signed a contract to play professional football.
“I really feel like a million bucks,” he said. “I will never forget this day. This really means a lot to me.”
Mitchell said he can now say that he has fulfilled all of his childhood dreams. He also had dreams of becoming a fireman, which he did for a short stint in Salisbury, and becoming a teacher, which he did after receiving his degree in education from Livingstone College.
“Not many people can say that they lived all of their childhood dreams. Today I can say that I have.”
Mitchell, who currently serves as an assistant trainer for the Wildcats who are playing their inaugural season in the AIF, said he enjoys being around the game and spending time with the players.
During an interview with The Chronicle, Mitchell, a former wide receiver, said what he enjoys most about the game is the joy of scoring touchdowns and performing in front of family and friends. His love for the game started while playing at 14th Street Recreation Center. He went on to play at Carver and East Forsyth.
Although it’s been years since he’s seen live game action, Mitchell said he still feels he can do his thing between the lines. “I feel like I can still play,” laughed Mitchell. “I know I still have the hands. I tell the players that all the time.”
Mitchell’s sister Norma Gay said growing up he always showed a love for the game of football. Gay mentioned he would always be the one gathering young boys from around the neighborhood for big games after school and on the weekends.
Gay said it feels great to see her brother live out one of his dreams. “It’s great to see him do something he has wanted to do,” she said.
Other family members noted that Mitchell is the type of person who is always looking to lend a helping hand and uplift those in need. Mitchell’s daughter Raylyn Long said her father has always been an inspiration for herself and others. “Because he does so much for other people, it feels good to see him receiving something in return,” Long said. Long said that seeing her father run out on the field with the team is an image that will live in her mind forever.
While he didn’t get any playing time during the Wildcats final home game of the 2016 season, Mitchell’s signing had an obvious impact on the team’s play, as they picked up their first victory of the season in a 49-19 blowout in a match-up with visiting Maryland Eagles. “It all fits at the right time,” Mitchell smiled.
Tevin Stinson is a reporter for the Winston-Salem Chronicle, where this story first appeared.