Mitchell Shettles, a graduating senior at New Albany High School, has received an appointment to the Naval Academy Prep School for the United States Coast Guard Academy.
"My desire to serve my country was my main motivation, but not many people in our area get an opportunity to attend a service academy, specifically the Coast Guard Academy, so that gives me an edge to accomplish something that not many people in our area have accomplished," Shettles said.
"My desire to go to into the military made me look into all service academies. After looking into all of them, the Coast Guard was the best fit. They wanted me to come and play basketball for them, they offer a major that will help me with my career path and they showed more interest in me than any of the other service academies."
Shettles' father and high school basketball coach, Scotty Shettles, was extremely pleased with the appointment of his son.
"As a father, I am extremely proud of him, for one, he has really worked on the court and in the classroom to give himself a chance to play basketball after high school and to serve his country," Scotty said. "To get a special appointment to the USCGA and to get to play basketball to me is incredible, first a kid from Mississippi is noticed by a coach in Connecticut is pretty rare and with his work in the classroom also helped him get in.
"I knew he was interested in the military because he joined the Army National Guard in August 2019. The USCGA will give him four more years of basketball along with an education that will prepare him for life after basketball."
Mitchell was informed of his appointment the first week of April by the basketball coach and later received a call from Senator Roger Wicker to congratulate him.
Other congressional members that played a role in the process include Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Representative Trent Kelly. Locally Sue Morrison, a community leader from Union County also was involved in assisting with Mitchell's process. Scotty also credited Mitchell's AAU coach, John Carlisle for helping him to get exposure outside of Mississippi.
"The process to get appointed was extremely difficult, the coach told us just because he wanted Mitchell that did not mean he would get accepted, but it would help and it did along with Mr. Guyton (Steve) who is with Roger Wicker's office," Scotty said. "Mitchell will be the first player ever from Mississippi to play at the academy.
"The process took around five months and it goes through several committees plus military, physical and physical education tests."
Mitchell is scheduled to report in the summer to begin his new journey with the military academy.
"I am supposed to report to the academy in June for a three week orientation then I will report to the Naval Academy Prep School on July 13," Mitchell said. "Instead of receiving a direct appointment to the academy I was appointed to the NAPS. I will be attending the NAPS for one year to improve on my studies and to adapt to military lifestyle. I will also be playing basketball for Navy Prep as well."
Mitchell is looking forward to opportunity to continue his basketball career as well as the educational process.
"Playing college basketball has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember," Mitchell said. "That is one of the reasons that I have chosen to USCGA, the coaching staff there gave me an opportunity to play basketball if I were to get the appointment.
"Hopefully, with the number of challenging classes I took throughout high school will prepare me for the rigorous and challenging courses and classes I will be taking at the academy."
Scotty is confident that Mitchell will make the adjustments to the military lifestyle and the course load in his future studies.
"I think one of Mitchell's strengths is his work ethic which he developed because of his desire to play basketball in college," Scotty said. Some of his assets is that he won't give up, he had shown that he is able to overcome adversity. I think he is willing to put his obligations first in serving his country, education, basketball or whatever it is."
Mitchell has already decided on a particular area of study that he wants to pursue as he furthers his education.
"I plan on getting my Bachelors in Government and Masters in Homeland Security," he said. "The Coast Guard is not tied into the Department of Defense, it is tied in Homeland Security."
Scotty sees a bright future ahead for his son and is extremely thankful for how the path has developed for Mitchell.
"I want to say it's an honor to have your son say he wants to serve his country and he can do that as well as play basketball and get his education," said Scotty. "The USCGA is a NCAA Division 3 member and they play in a very competitive conference.
"Mitchell knows he has been blessed by God and his faith is strong and for that reason I think he will be successful."