After five years of running one of the area’s most productive offenses, Jerimi Calip has found a new coaching position as he looks to revive the Mitchell football program that hasn’t produced a winning season in 15 years.
Calip led Vista Ridge to a 34-21 record in five seasons, but did not return in 2019. Instead he worked as the offensive coordinator at Palmer, earning valuable experience in what it takes to rebuild a program.
“After coaching at Palmer this past season I felt like (District 11) was a good place and a good fit, and I’m hoping to have an effect on the kids at Mitchell like I felt I did at Palmer,” Calip said. “I feel like the success that I had at Vista and the little bit of success I had on the offensive side at Palmer will hopefully be able to trickle down and bring some excitement to Mitchell.”
Calip takes over for Corey Anderson, who led the Marauders the past five seasons to a 12-38 overall record. Mitchell has not won more than two games in a season since 2016 and has not had a winning season since 2004 (6-4) under Archie Malloy, now the coach at St. Mary’s.
“I’ve known Jerimi for about 10 years, we played together on Colorado Springs Flames, and I see a lot of the things I saw in him as a player that I now see in him as a coach,” said Mitchell athletic director Al Everett. “Other athletic directors and coaches not in the Mitchell community have sent me texts saying that he’s a great hire. It’s been a good 24 hours (since the announcement). It’s huge for us and it came at the right time.”
Mitchell’s wins in each of the past two seasons have come against Sierra and Sand Creek. Last year’s victory over the Scorpions was a forfeit win.
But Calip doesn’t look at Mitchell’s struggles as a deterrent.
“I look at it like it’s a sheet of white paper,” Calip said. “I honestly believe that if you have a positive mindset and think positively it will attract positive people. I hope we can get enough kids in the area excited about my style of play and who I am as a coach and person. Then hopefully we will see the numbers increase.”
Calip, who was a wide receiver at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, found success with his high-powered offense at Vista Ridge, which averaged more than 30 points and 349.7 yards per game. Calip said he won’t make any decisions about his offense until he can evaluate his new players.
He said he watched game film from Palmer’s game against the Marauders last year as he waits for access to Mitchell’s game film, and says he sees some potential.
“I feel like they have a couple players we can work with and they’re pretty young at the quarterback position,” Calip said. “But I still need to take a look at the whole piece and sit down with the kids to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses and tailor the offense to them.”
Calip said he hopes to utilize Google Hangouts and other technology as preseason stands in limbo due to the coronavirus. He said once he gains access to game film he can begin evaluating and teaching his players virtually in hopes of limiting the learning curve once they get on the field.
“It’s going to be a lot of hard work, and really, it will depend on how much work the kids are able to put in if we can get going this summer,” Calip said. “We will have to have a quick learning curve. But my ultimate goal here is to mentor them on and off the field. I’ve learned that kids don’t really care what you know, they want to know that you care.”
Everett said to rebuild a struggling program you must first set a foundation of success for the athletes off the field.
“Wins and losses at this point are kind of a moot point," Everett said. "We want to make sure that kids are leaving our programs better people because they participated in athletics. It’s not about wins or losses or state championships, I believe all of that will come, but if we are building relationships and positive experiences, being teammates and leaders on the field and in the classroom, that is the strongest aspect of an athletic program.”