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Senior Profile: Princeton will always be Mitchum's home
When Gavino Mitchum began playing football at Princeton High, he had no idea what he was doing.
Like many freshmen at the school, he had little experience on the football field, having played just one year of junior peewee football as a child. But without a junior varsity team, he was thrown into the mix immediately.
"I didn't know what to do at all, I was pretty much just out there, but the seniors then, they really helped me," Mitchum said. "What they learned, they taught me."
Now a senior on a team loaded with young players, Mitchum is one of the team's leaders. He sees himself in the first-time players.
"You're just out there to be part of a team. You really don't know what to do, but when you get hit by somebody, you get back up and they teach you how to avoid getting hit hard. You've got to help them out," he said.
The Eagles started the season 0-3 — with two losses coming against the top two teams in the section last season — but are quickly improving. Last week, Princeton lost 54-48 against Butte Valley, but Mitchum rushed for 214 yards and four touchdowns and made 15 tackles.
A three-sport athlete, Mitchum established himself as the Eagles best defender, both on the football field and basketball court. While he excelled in those two sports, baseball is his favorite — it's the sport he grew up playing with his uncles.
As a freshman, the Eagles won the Division VI baseball section champions and they were runners up his sophomore year. He looks forward to competing against the bigger schools, especially the other Colusa County teams, because he grew up playing baseball with many of the players in Little League.
When he isn't playing sports, he spends a lot of time on the Colusa Rancheria where his family is part of the Cachil Dehe Band of the Wintun Indians.
His long hair, which is a family tradition, makes him instantly recognizable during competition, though he tucks it in his jersey during football season.
"My freshman year during our first scrimmage in Westwood I didn't really know it was part of your gear, so it was out and I got pulled back by it — now I just tuck it in," he said.
Cutting it isn't an option.
"I grew up with long hair so it would actually feel kind of weird if I were to cut it off."
He spends a lot of time on the reservation with his grandfather and participates in ceremonies there. During the summer, he works for Colusa Indian Outdoor Adventures where he helps guide pig hunts and salmon fishing trips.
It's a perfect job — hunting and fishing are his favorite hobbies.
"I find it a really good place to live, I find it really convenient," He said. "The river is right out the back door to go fishing and, if you like to go hunting, there's a lot of wildlife around here and you can go up to the foothills."
After high school, Mitchum wants to move away for school for a little while. He doesn't know what he wants to study, but he's considering going to Shasta College in Redding to take classes and find out what he's really interested in.
"This is home to me," Mitchum said. "Wherever I go off after this, I know I'm always going to come back."
CONTACT Kirk Barron at email@example.com