Pitch and Hit Club's Ken Miller receives Illinois "Coaches" Hall of
Ken Miller admits to being like a lot of young people when he left high
"I was one of those people that probably went to college for all of the
wrong reasons. I went to be an athlete," the long-time Coal City coach
said. "But once I was there, I started to realize all of the people that
impacted me at a coaching level. It was really all I wanted to be."
After a four year stint at now consolidated Cornell High School
(students in that community now attend Flanagan High School), Miller
landed at Coal City, where he became something of a coaching utility
knife. He coached the baseball team and the basketball team and, when
the school instituted football in the fall of 1978, he jumped in there
too as an assistant.
Over the course of the next 37 years, Miller became a fixture in the
coaching staffs of many successful Coal City football teams. Last year,
Miller elected to step down from the coaching ranks, and it marked the
first time in nearly 50 years where Miller wasn't coaching some sport,
That overwhelming commitment to student athletes didn't go unnoticed by
the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association, as they have
selected Miller to enter the organization's Hall of Fame. The 2016 class
will be inducted on Saturday, April 2 in Champaign.
"I'm just very humbled by it all," Miller said. "It's probably one of
the greatest honors I've ever had. I've always felt that one of the
highest compliments someone can call you is to call you coach. I've been
Miller never treated the coaching facet of his job as anything like a job.
"I was always something I very much looked forward to doing," Miller
said. "At the end of a day of a classwork, it was a pleasure to go
outside and help young kids in a way that you just can't in the classroom."
It would be easy for Miller to point to the 1993 season, the year that
the Coalers captured the Class 2A state title as the highlight of his
coaching career. But Miller really doesn't; he counts pretty much all of
it among the highlights.
"I've coached for a very long time, and when you do that, you might take
some of it for granted," Miller said. "I've tried not to. I've always
felt very fortunate to do what I love to do for as long as I've done."
Although Miller willingly hung up his coaching whistle last season, he
remains connected to Coal City and serves as the School Board President
and remains connected to sports through his work as director of
community relations for the Joliet Slammers, a Frontier League
Independent Baseball team.
"I wasn't looking for the job; it just kind of came to me," Miller said. "And it's been a great thing. It allows me to stay connected to sports.
And I'm happy to have it. Sports has given me everything I have. I'm
happy to try to give some back."