The Grand Rapids Drive open their season this Friday with a game against the Canton Charge at the DeltaPlex Arena. The new season of Drive basketball brings a new opportunity and a bit of a homecoming for a former Aquinas student-athlete and Athletic Training student.
Courtney Havens-Mitchell ’13 was hired by the Drive as their new Head Athletic Trainer earlier this fall. The Aquinas alum will be on the sidelines this winter for the Drive as they start their third season, and will also be assisting the Strength and Conditioning Coach in running conditioning and rehab programs. Havens-Mitchell will also be involved with helping Detroit Pistons players who head to Grand Rapids for rehab stints and will help the Pistons after the Drive season has concluded.
Havens-Mitchell was a four-year member of the women’s soccer team as a midfielder. She graduated in 2013 with her Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training. While at Aquinas, she worked student athletic training rotations with lacrosse and women’s basketball while also working clinic hours. She worked with East Grand Rapids High School basketball and wrestling, and interned with Ferris State University football during her final semester. She became a Certified Athletic Trainer in 2014.
She joined the sports medicine staff at NCAA DII Grand Canyon University in 2014 as a graduate assistant athletic trainer. During her first year at GCU, Courtney worked with the cross country and track & field teams. In her second year with the ‘Lopes, she spent time with men’s basketball and men’s volleyball, while helping with baseball as well. Havens-Mitchell put her training to use with daily treatment and rehab sessions with the athletes, as well as functional movement screening. Courtney graduated from GCU with her MBA in 2016.
Havens-Mitchell didn’t start out thinking her path would lead to Athletic Training. She came to Aquinas to study Biology and Pre-Med, but a First Aid class with Aquinas ATEP Clinical Coordinator Deb Springer and time with ATEP Program Director JoAnne Gorant opened her eyes to a new opportunity. “Deb and JoAnne were the biggest mentors I could have asked for,” said Havens-Mitchell. “I owe almost everything to them. I took Deb’s first aid class and had a blast bandaging people up and switched. Soon after, JoAnne pushed me into ATEP Club, and the leadership skills I gained there pushed me to pursue grad school and to be an athletic trainer.” A thankful Havens-Mitchell added, “I have them to thank for a lot of this. They always encouraged the Athletic Training students to be involved as much as possible.”
Applying for athletic training jobs was, “kind of crazy,” according to Havens-Mitchell. She had difficulty finding the right position, and actually was set to take a job in another field before getting a call from the Drive. “It worked out in the best way, when I wasn’t expecting it,” she said. “That’s when the best things seem to happen.”
Havens-Mitchell officially started her position on September 1st, and has spent much of the fall setting up policies and procedures for the future while also prepping for the upcoming season. She also spent time at the Detroit Pistons training camp at the end of September assisting the Pistons training staff. Her time with the Drive is sure to be a great opportunity to learn and gain experience, hopefully on the way to eventually moving up to join the Pistons or another NBA team.
“One of my biggest goals was to be a head athletic trainer. To be able to do that coming out of Grad school is so cool, I never expected that.”