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The City Journals

Former player, now teacher and coach guides Midvale student-athletes

May 08, 2018 10:46AM ● By Julie Slama

Midvale Middle School teacher and coach Mitch Edmonds coached the 6th-grade girls’ basketball team in the 2017 Canyons School District intramural tournament. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

In an environment that is distinctly different from other middle schools, Midvale Middle School may have a “dual personality” between neighborhood students and Canyons School District’s Salta or accelerated learning students, who are housed at the school. 

Not everyone can understand both groups of students, much less unite them to not only play on a team together, but that is what Midvale Middle School’s soccer and basketball coach Mitch Edmonds has done for the past three years.

“I grew up in this community and was one of these kids so I get it,” he said. “I was one of the Salta kids who was nerdy and can identify with the neighbor kids from growing up with them. I hope I’m a role model. I know a lot of kids here in the community may need one.”

As a healthy lifestyles teacher, Edmonds sees the students both in class and on his teams. This spring, he has more than 50 students vying for 21 spots on sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade co-ed soccer teams in the district’s intramural program. 

“Our culture certainly lends itself to students wanting to play. With our Latino neighborhood in Midvale, we have a lot of those students who have grown up playing. Plus, we have several Salta students play on club teams so it’s a much more natural fit,” he said, in contrast to basketball, where he only had enough interest to fill nine of the 12 teams, and cross country, which required recruiting to form a team.

Intramural soccer, which is played grade-versus-grade against all eight middle schools, is a single-elimination tournament played afterschool, Thursday, May 10 at Union Middle School, 615 E. 8000 South. Amongst the tournament rules, it states there has to be a minimum of two players from each gender, with at least one of each gender on the field at the same time. The games are 30-minutes long.

Midvale started practicing right after spring break and will continue to practice afterschool twice each week leading up to the tournament.

“Our players are all pretty well versed on what to do, so we’ll just go over the basic skill development and then closer to the tournament, we’ll go over strategy and positioning,” said Edmonds, a former University of Utah and Hillcrest High forward and wing player who tried out for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2007.

Although Edmonds has all his returning players from Midvale’s seventh-grade team who last year placed second overall, he said that he will take the best players in terms of ability, fitness, teamwork and sportsmanship.

“Intramurals may not be as competitive, but there is still the desire to win. However, it’s teamwork and sportsmanship that we also emphasize. I definitely want students who are the best at that and rise to the top to represent the school and everyone. We want to win with dignity and lose with grace,” he said.

Edmonds estimates that about 75 Midvale Middle School students are involved each year in intramurals since the programs began in 2009.

In addition to Edmonds coaching soccer and basketball, Midvale Middle School’s intramural coaching staff includes Richard Foiles, who has coached the school to seven district chess titles and two second-place finishes; and first-year cross country coach Emily Jenkins, who was a high school cross country and 3,200-meter track state champion at Bingham High before setting the 800-meter record at Brigham Young University. 

Edmonds and Foiles also team up to coach the eighth-grade boys’ basketball team through a Salt Lake County super league program. 

Although Edmonds played basketball at Midvale Middle under then history teacher and coach Scott Stucki, who now teaches as well as coaches cross country and track at nearby Hillcrest High, Edmonds said he was the kid “who shot three-pointers in the corner” and he was “way too short” to make the Hillcrest team as a sophomore.

Still, Edmonds takes what he has learned from his coaches, including his high school soccer coach Brett Davis who returned this year to Hillcrest to coach the boys’ team, as well as what he has read and researched on his own to coach his Midvale Middle teams.

“The best part is seeing these kids being successful and getting past the preconceived fears that they may not be good enough or make the team,” Edmonds said. “When I see the pride on their faces, it’s all very rewarding.”