By Emily Farlow
FAIRFIELD, Ala. – A history-making year for football at Mercer University continued Oct. 24 at Miles College in Alabama. The occasion didn't have anything to do with head coach Bobby Lamb's Bears, however.
Tangela Mitchell, coordinator of housing operations for Campus Life and Housing on the University's Cecil B. Day campus in Atlanta, was part of what is believed to be the first majority female officiating crew in college football history.
Mitchell, three other women and three men made up the seven-member crew officiating the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) game between Miles College and Lane College.
Mitchell, who has worked at Mercer for five years, began officiating after a friend recommended it to her. Although she works only SIAC contests now, she said that, one day, she might be able to officiate Southern Conference games, for instance.
"I believe the sky's the limit," she said. "I could be officiating a Mercer game one day."
Mitchell said Thursday night's game was important to her because working with other women is different than working with only men.
"You know the struggles that person has gone through," said Mitchell, adding that she understands how hard the other women have worked and studied to get where they are.
The game was also important for football in general, Mitchell said, because it "brings to light that (football) is not only a man's sport. Women can be involved as well."
Mitchell said she was very excited when Mercer began playing football, and although she officiates most Saturdays, she hopes to see the Bears play soon.
"I absolutely enjoy Mercer," Mitchell said.
Mercer is the third institution for which she has worked, but it stands out among the others because "the people are what make Mercer, Mercer," she said.
"Mercer is like a second family," she added. When her mother's house caught on fire, Mitchell's coworkers opened their hearts, and sometimes even their pockets, to help her family.
"The love I received from all the employees in Atlanta – they have been so warm and forgiving and understanding," said Mitchell. "This is where I'm supposed to be."