Ariel “Mighty” Mitchell is one of three women who are changing the face of the Harlem Globetrotters this basketball season.
She and “T-Time” Brawner are the 10th and 11th female Globetrotters going into the team’s 87th season. Last year, “TNT” Maddox joined the squad.
The Globetrotters have two squads, and Mitchell will be the only female on the court Saturday night when the team returns to the i wireless Center in Moline.
“I’m glad they have the women that they do because we can reach out to the little girls,” Mitchell said from her home in St. James, La. “The girls can come to the game and see girls playing.”
Mitchell, 23, said she hasn’t heard any discussions about adding more female players in the future.
Aside from separate locker rooms, there’s been nothing different for the women players on the court.
“Everyone gets treated the same,” Mitchell said. “The guys who have been there for a lengthy amount of time, all of them are really helpful. They give you pointers and better your game.”
Since she was 7 years old, Mitchell said, she wanted to play professional basketball. During four years of high school, she scored more than 3,000 points. At Dillard University in New Orleans, she topped 1,500 points over four years.
Mitchell sent a video of her college play to several professional groups, and she got the call from the Globetrotters to play in a training camp. She was hired after the camp ended.
“When I got the opportunity, I was amazed and overwhelmed and happy that they saw a Globetrotter person in me,” she said.
Mitchell said she was impressed with all of the Globetrotters’ youth-based missions, including bullying prevention, building character, physical fitness and visiting children’s hospitals whenever one is near a game location.
“We do so much more than just playing basketball. I really admire that in the Harlem Globetrotters, I have the ability to not only be a basketball player, but to be a role model to kids all around the world, United States or internationally. I’m really blessed to be in this position.”
Besides a female player on the court, the Globetrotters are introducing a fan vote on their website to determine which rules get to be changed in a given game: playing with two basketballs, double the points, a four-point shot from 35 feet out, a penalty box or having six players on the opposition against the five Globetrotters on the court.
“I’m excited to see which rules changes will be thrown at us at different places,” Mitchell said.
Known as a sharpshooter, Mitchell said her time on the court will be big on shooting and dribbling with little of the antics for which the Clown Princes of Basketball are famous.
Mitchell’s hometown is about halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., both frequent stops on the team’s tours.
But she never got to watch them in person until she joined them.
“I was always like, ‘You never take me to see the Harlem Globetrotters,’ ” she said. “And now I’m playing for the Harlem Globetrotters.”