Always a Panther: Basketball Coach Bounces Back to her Roots

Jalie Mitchell’s memories of her years at Duncanville High School are intertwined with basketball. She played for the powerhouse Duncanville Pantherette girls basketball team that won the State Championship in 1997.

“We had the best band, the best girls basketball team - even the boys basketball team when I was there. They were really good,” Jalie said. “We just have a lot of traditions. I think we’re called the City of Champions for a reason.”

When Jalie graduated from Duncanville High School in 1998, her success as a student and an athlete won her a basketball scholarship to the University of North Texas. Nearly 20 years later, Jalie is still the all-time leading scorer at UNT with 1,764 points.

Off the court, Jalie studied finance and banking. After graduating from UNT in 2002, she launched a business career. Several years later, she was doing well for herself, but wasn’t satisfied.

“When you’re an athlete and used to moving around, sitting behind a desk isn’t as appealing,” Jalie said.

Jalie kept her day job at the bank and began volunteering as a coach with a semi-pro basketball team in Fort Worth. That foray back into the sports world convinced Jalie that coaching was her calling. After two years of volunteering, she embarked on a years-long journey working as an assistant coach twice at UNT, the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and at The University of Texas.

Three years ago, the University of North Texas brought Jalie back, hiring her as their head coach. Jalie says it is her ‘dream job.’ Under Jalie’s leadership, the UNT womens basketball team is doing better than they have in more than a decade. Jalie credits her teachers at Duncanville High School for giving her a foundation for success which included an emphasis on teamwork and independent thinking.

“I think those things prepared me to be a head coach and to speak my mind and not be afraid,” Jalie said. “There were a lot of opportunities I was given.”