Friday, August 15, 2014 |
To many American college football fans, University of Georgia Bulldogs' wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell was a player with a lot of promise on the field. However, a series of knee injuries in the past year had forced Mitchell to spend more time rehabbing his injuries than playing in Athens, Georgia's Sanford Stadium.
While the journey to regain his athletic form has been frustrating for the 22-year-old, Mitchell also gained time to pursue one of his other passions: reading.
"Growing up as a kid, I didn't read at all," Mitchell said in a video produced by the University of Georgia. "I was always outside playing sports. And I developed a love of reading just over time."
In fact, a chance encounter with another book lover at a local Barnes and Nobles led Mitchell to join another kind of team - a book club entirely made up of middle-aged women.
Kathy Rackley, a member of the club, remembers browsing the bestsellers section of the store a while back, when a young man who had been shopping with his friend shyly approached her to ask for some book recommendations.
"I said [to my friend], 'I guarantee she knows something about what's going on right now,'" Mitchell said, recalling how Rackley had been juggling several books in her hands and bags.
They got to chatting and Rackley, who knew nothing about Bulldogs football, mentioned she had just joined a book club. Mitchell got excited. He said he had always wanted to join one and asked if he could check it out.
"He's just very unpretentious," Rackley said. "He said that, 'I knew that after my freshman year, I wanted to step it up and do some things that I hadn't done before. Start reading more. Expand myself in that regard.'"
Mitchell, however, didn't expect to receive an invitation.
"I thought they were going to say 'no.' She had told me there were no males in there so [I thought] 'I don't have a chance.'"
But the ladies welcomed him over. And despite their substantial age and gender differences, Mitchell bonded with the club members over their shared love of reading. He now has made important friendships and sees them outside of the book club, as they always invite him over to hang out with their kids, eat with them, and just talk. And the book club continues to expose him to works of literature he never would have thought to pick up himself, such as The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.
"It's like I've been adopted into their family," he said.