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Miller calls it a career
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
In 2011, few people gave the Warwick softball team a chance in Section One.
Star pitcher Sam Derr had graduated for the defending Lancaster-Lebanon League champs and this was finally the opportunity for others to get some payback, right.
The Warwick girls rose to the challenge and captured their seventh of eight straight Section One crowns.
For Don Miller, that was one of his most rewarding memories from a 10-year head coaching career with the Lady Warriors that ended in early June when he submitted his letter of resignation to Athletic Director John Kosydar.
"I think when you get a challenge and when people didn’t expect much, and you go out and win a Section title when people thought you were going to be down, those are the rewarding things," Miller said, "because you’re teaching kids how to play the game and you’re teaching them how to get the most out of their ability."
During his tenure as Warwick’s skipper, Miller compiled an overall record of 175-55, with 10 appearances in the District Three Quad-A playoffs, eight straight Section One titles from 2005-2012, and the L-L League crown in 2010. His Lady Warriors also advanced to the District Three Quad-A championship game in 2007, where they suffered a 5-0 loss to Lower Dauphin, and they advanced to the State playoffs in 2010 and finished 26-2 in Derr’s senior season.
"It’s been a really good run," Miller said. "I don’t think too many people can coach for 10 years and have pretty much the same staff for 10 years and I think I’ll miss that. (Assistants) Carl (Keener) and Barry (Gingrich), and Mark Hough and Heather Hess on JV, it’s been a fun staff to work with."
In the end, Miller acknowledged that he got a little bit burned out. That, coupled with the fact that his children – Mary, 13, and Payton, 11 – are getting involved in more activities led Miller to call it a career. Including his involvement as a JV baseball coach in the mid-90’s, followed by four seasons as a varsity softball assistant, Miller has been coaching for nearly 20 years.
"I think it’s a combination of things," Miller said. "It’s time. I’ve been doing it for awhile."
A social studies teacher at Warwick Middle School, Miller said that he started to know during the 2012 season that there other things that he wanted to do. He came into the 2013 season figuring this would be his final season in the dugout.
"I’ve been thinking about it for a little while," Miller said. "As my son gets older, he wants to go fishing more and more. And I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Well, I can’t this week. I’ve got practice on Saturday. We’ve got three games this week and it’s hard to make time.’ I think I’d rather spend more time with him fishing and going hunting for spring gobbler and stuff like that. That’s what I’m looking at … I look at (former track coach) Blake (Bender) and I look at (former baseball coach) Brownie (Mike Brown) and when I first started coaching, we were all head coaches. I’m kinda the last holdout of that group. So I just need to spend more time with my family."
As Miller looks back over the past few years, he also felt as though he was becoming less effective in his role as the team’s head coach.
"I think there’s such a proliferation of travel ball teams," Miller said. "With all these sports facilities where kids go to now, I think they’re hearing so many different things from their hitting coaches. It just seemed like as a coaching staff, we became less and less influential. I think every high school coach schedules a lot of open gyms and we just weren’t getting the turnout."
Miller has no doubt that the softball program at Warwick will continue to be successful, but he felt that they might benefit from hearing a new voice in the coaches’ box.
"The program is going to survive no matter what because you get good players coming in," Miller said. "They’ve got such a good program with the Warwick Youth Girls Softball Association, you always know there’s more kids coming up. There’s a really good eighth-grade class this year that will be freshmen next year and you’re always anticipating the next group of kids. You want to make sure that the program continues to flourish and I always look forward to the challenge of coaching. But I just knew it was time to get out."
Whether or not he returns to the coaching ranks remains to be seen. If so, it won’t be until his children are older.
"I don’t know, but it might be nice when March 5th or 6th rolls around, it’s 40 degrees outside and the wind is blowing, I might be thinking, ‘I’m never going to go out in that cold again,’" Miller laughed. "That’s one upside to it. It gets a little cold in the spring. I’d like to see what it’s like to just teach and come home and spend time with the family."
More MILLER, page B-4