By Julia Kramer | Point Park News Service:
Fourteen-year-old Lyneil Mitchell was growing up in the downtrodden area of Butler city known as the “Island” when he found a path out of the underlining drug and crime culture that swallowed many of his peers.
He learned at a young age he was a competitive wrestler, which not only raised his self-esteem, but it also led him to high school stardom, a college scholarship and now a successful physical therapist position in Butler.
“I look back at it now,” said Mitchell, 34. “I wouldn’t have wanted to grow up any other way because it always made me look in the future. I was never really someone who sat around and complained about my current situation. It was always, ‘How do I get better? How do I change?’”
Mitchell said in the beginning it wasn’t easy and everything he wanted had to be earned, while responding to adversity on and off the wrestling mat. He is now the local owner and operator of Revolution Physical therapy in his hometown.
From very early on, Mitchell’s father, an ex- military firefighter and paramedic in the Air Force, taught self-discipline and hard work within the home.
“He would always push that you’re the one in control, you need to set these goals, eat a certain way, live out these behaviors,” he said. “I didn’t want to end up like the people who I’d seen that didn’t become what they wanted to be. They just didn’t follow the right path. I had a great foundation at home with my parents showing me both the stronger and sweeter side. I was very lucky.”
Despite growing up in a somewhat underprivileged area of Butler, a town of 14,000 people, 35 miles north of Pittsburgh, Mitchell proudly recalls it as a great place to grow up.
Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric McCall said the Island has kind of always been known for being a “rougher section” of town.
“Along with a couple other areas, it definitely has somewhat of a stigma attached to it,” McCall said.
But Mitchell said the place also offered opportunities. One was wrestling, which Mitchell started in 1995. He soon became a star.
“He may have learned to be approachable, open and very welcoming early on from where he grew up,” said Scott Stoner, Mitchell’s high school coach. “His personality has set him up for success. He would go up to an opponent before a match and strike up a conversation and be patting the guy on the back…Kids are usually eyeballing each other up, but not Lyneil. He was different and set himself apart.”
An impressive multi- sport athlete in baseball and football, Mitchell quickly started gaining attention among prospective universities. It was his prowess in wrestling that helped elevate the fledgling Golden Tornado high school program his varsity year. He finished in second place in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Leaguge AAA championship at 189 pounds.
This led to a full scholarship to Gannon University where he became a two-time All American.
One injury he suffered through was a damaging turf toe that still hinders him today. That injury has been a major influence on the way he looks at his profession today.
“Back then, we didn’t think about performance as much,” he said. “It was all about pain management. I should’ve had surgery. Unfortunately hindsight is always 20-20.”
The sport of wrestling is responsible for his education, his decision to become a physical therapist and for the attitude he has used to achieve success.
“I attribute everything I’ve done up to this point to wrestling,” he said. “The hard work it requires as well as the dissection of mechanical movements was what ultimately led me to pursing physical therapy.”
Mitchell graduated from Gannon in sport and exercise science, and then worked as a graduate assistant with the school’s wrestling team and obtained his doctorate there in 2006.
After completing his residency at the University of Cincinnati, Mitchell returned to Butler county with his fiancé Jannan Turner to open his 14,000-square-foot Revolution Physical Therapy facility located in Cranberry Township.
One regular client for training and rehab at Revolution has been pro boxing WBO world ranked and Butler county native Brain Minto.
“You can’t find this equipment anywhere else around here,” said Minto, whose next title fight is scheduled to take place in New Zealand. “It helps out tremendously that I can work out and train then get rehabbed immediately following.”
The opening of his newest facility in 2012 gives various athletes access to a physical trainer who has a strong personal athletic background.
Mitchell is especially proud that various Olympic medalists, pro and arena football players and professional boxers have sought his help. In the next few years, Mitchell hopes to open another local facility in Butler County.
“You learn to live with the defeat and there’s always another opportunity you have to keep your vision going forward,” Mitchell said. “It was only onward and upward for me. No matter where I was going to end up, it was going to be better than where I started.”