Miller ends career at the top

Published 9:58 pm Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dallas County High School head softball coach Ed Miller ended his 10-year tenure at the helm of the Lady Hornet program on top by leading his team to the Class 4A state softball championship. Former players and parents agree Miller’s presence will be missed when softball season rolls around again. -- File photo

Dallas County head softball coach Ed Miller knows how to go out on top. In his 10th year and final year as the head coach of the Lady Hornets, Miller was named the Class 4A coach of the year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association after leading Dallas County to its first ever state title in softball.

“You can’t look back when you win everything,” Miller said. “We tried some crazy things this year (at practice) and when you win, it makes it all worth it. I don’t have to ever look back and say ‘What if?’”

But Miller’s career as the only head coach for the Lady Hornets fastpitch program just doesn’t come down to a single game, instead the countless hours spent with his players. Players like this year’s 4A player of the year Cassie Daniels.

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“Coach Miller has been my coach for the last five years, and to be honest, it’s almost going to feel wrong playing for someone else,” Daniels said. “He’s been there for me through some of the most important moments in my life so far, and in some ways it feels like he’s helped raise me. Words don’t even begin to tell you how much he put into us and has done for me over the years.”

While he was always there for his players, it doesn’t mean he made things easy for them.

“He’s a tough coach,” said Avery Mott, another one of Miller’s players this year. “He believes in practicing every day. Even when we would have to skip because of the weather, he would always say ‘Just remember, someone is working right now.’ He never wanted to be out worked.

“But he did it all for a purpose, it was never anything just to be doing something and in the long run, it paid off.”

Miller admits he doesn’t shy away from the hard work necessary to be successful; it’s part of the reason he got into coaching in the first place.

“I’ve always been super competitive,” Miller said. “Coaching was a way to stay competitive when I stopped playing softball myself, it gave me that outlet. I love to compete and when I’m doing something I will work hard to be the best and I expected that out of my players too.”

Parents recognized that hard work too and appreciated just how hard and well he worked with their girls.

“Coach Miller is a Christian, family man that is very devoted to his job both on the field and in the classroom, said Gaylen Denson, whose daughter Whitney has played for Miller for four years. “If there is one attribute to him that stands out is that he won’t be out worked and he expects the same from his girls. As the girls said, it doesn’t matter the type of weather conditions nor the time involved, the team was going to work to reach their goal.  And if one girl was struggling, he was going to use every resource available to help them whether it be extra time at drills or calling other coaches for advice.”

As much as he was a hard worker, he was also an encourager and a teacher both on and off the field.

“Coach Miller didn’t just teach us softball, though; he taught us about life. You could talk to him about anything and he’d always be honest with you, even if it wasn’t what you wanted to hear,” said Daniels. “I know that for me, if something happened at school and I was having a bad day, I went to his room at break, or I’d stop by during his prep period just to talk to him for a minute. Coach Miller wasn’t just a funny guy. He could crack jokes and get you rolling on the floor laughing, but when things got rough, it seemed like he always knew what to say.”

Multiple times, he thought of leaving, only to come back once again.

“It was sort of a joke this year,” Miller said. “They (parents) were like, you’ve said that every year, but you haven’t stayed away.”

Now as Miller steps away from the diamond, he does so knowing that he had a fulfilling time.

“I really enjoyed (coaching) it was fun,” Miller said. “But now it’s time to step away and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to do it.”