Alaskan Mitch Harrison to compete in NBC’s Titan Games as the first trans athlete.
Harrison played basketball at Stanford as Michelle Harrison. With the Stanford Cardinals Harrison went to three final fours, two national championships. He then went on to play pro-ball overseas before starting his transition.
In a 2006 article, the Deseret Morning News declared a 6’2”, 170 pound, Mountain View High School Orem senior as “Ms. Basketball” for the year, after being the first Utah player to be named a McDonald’s All-American, signing with Stanford, breaking the state’s blocked-shots record, and leading their teammates to a region title and second-place finish in the 5A state tournament. The newspaper wrote about how “little girls were telling her they wanted to be like her someday.”
Fourteen years later, that athlete stood on a platform, ready to compete before 3.8 million viewers in the Titan Games, hosted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This time as Mitch Harrison — the first transgender man to compete on the show.
In 2015, Harrison met Krista, who would become his wife two years later. ‘[Krista] was really the first person who was completely supportive of my gender identity, and had finally given me that safe space to be fully open about it,” Harrison said. “Thinking about actually transitioning didn’t come about until I was forced to retire from basketball due to injuries. Basketball was always my priority and it took a while for me to realize I was more than just a basketball player.”
Most of his family have distanced themselves from him. Other than his sister and some distant family members, they are not on speaking terms. Harrison has posted heartfelt letters to his mother on Facebook the past two Mother’s Days. Last year’s was full of pain and anguish. This year, he spoke of forgiveness and unconditional love. “Under the circumstances, loving from a distance is for the best, but I’m at a place where my door is open if a healthy relationship is ever possible.”
Harrison, who is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah but now lives in Nikiski, says he is honored to be apart of the show. He is making history as the first trans athlete to be competing in the Titian Games.
“I’m absolutely excited about it and very nervous at the same time, just really grateful for the opportunity, obviously it’s a big stage to compete on, “ said Harrison. “[It’s} the first time I’ve competed out as a trans athlete, as Mitch, essentially and so it’s just a great opportunity all and all.That’s the most exciting part about all of this, knowing that I’m coming on the show being the first trans athlete representing the trans community.”
Preparation for the Titan Games actually began late in 2019 Harrison says when he was contacted by a producer for the show. After that initial talk, he began training, paperwork and other mental preparation.In the fifth episode of this series, Harrison says he goes up against another former basketball player, both with similar athletic styles, each trying to get the upper hand over their opponent.
“The tension is growing, the excitement is growing, there are so many things to look forward to in this episode so I hope that a lot of people watch.”
Harrison says two of the hardest things about competing in the Titan Games are not knowing really what to expect and the speed of the games. He says things go from one thing to the next, so being able to adjust quickly is key.
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