After nine seasons at Covington Dave Miller is moving on to football closer to home…at Kettering Fairmont. He takes with him one very impressive resume’, and here’s why.
The most impressive thing I learned to appreciate about Dave Miller in his nine seasons as coach at Covington High School was simply this. The man owned everything he did.
And every outcome.
And to be sure, Dave Miller isn’t alone in that respect, but the manner in which he handled objection, questioning, and criticism, was as admirable as that of anyone I’ve personally met in sports.
When he came to Covington in 2007 it was a surprise to me. I had known about his tenure at Twin Valley South prior to Covington, and I knew that it wasn’t a seamless exit when he left. When I questioned him about that later he didn’t flinch, didn’t hesitate, and didn’t equivocate.
“I made some mistakes and I learned from them,” he said, matter-of-factly. And in the next sentence he said, “We won’t be having this discussion again.” Meaning, he’d made the necessary corrections, moved on, and taken responsibility for the expectations of the community. He’d taken ownership of his past.
He took what he “owned” this week to Kettering Fairmont, where it was announced that he’ll be the Firebirds’ new head football coach come fall.
Without being a special guy…Dave Miller is special in today’s world of shifting character and participation trophies. If you want your kid to grow up with a pretty good idea of what it takes to be respected and successful, playing for Miller is a pretty good place to start.
He’s tireless in his attention to detail, and delights in demonstrating personally how every drill is to be done.
His rules are just and apply to everyone. Moreover, he doesn’t duck the responsibility of communicating their value to his players. Nor does he apologize for being the adult in the room…regardless of who’s in the room.
His decisions come from years of training under men of character, his high school coach Bob Gregg at Centerville, and a litany of other football men he’s known through the ranks. He believes in what he knows, and he believes in the efficacy of what he teaches.
Execute and take your chances.
Create your own standard and play to be your best against that standard.
Put the pressure on the opponent to stop you. Don’t stop yourself!
And when it comes to outcomes, Dave Miller is among my favorites, all-time. He’s a respectful winner, always giving credit to an opponent, even the team he’s beaten by seven touchdowns.
But I’ve also known some difficult moments for Dave Miller, after losses; and none more difficult than the regional semi-final in 2013 when his Covington team came just short of defeating eventual state champ, Marion Local. Covington had outplayed Marion that night, but lost the lead and momentum when the Flyers connected on an unlikely fourth and ten conversion late in the game that led to the eventual game winning touchdown.
It was heart-breaking – inexplicable. His expression blank with emotion, and drained by the utter disappointment of seeing what would have been a landmark victory slip by, Dave Miller nonetheless took the time to pay tribute to Marion Local’s kids and coaches…and share his own thoughts relative to the outcome with the waiting media. He would have rather been with his kids, and after a couple of minutes politely excused himself to fulfill that duty; but he took the time to talk…without bitterness, and without criticism of anyone but himself.
Here’s my point. Guys like Dave Miller matter…for the way he acts, talks, and teaches kids to react to both success and failure in his own likeness. I’ve never particularly liked his brand of football, the triple option, but I love the way he teaches it…his loyalty to it…and his faith in its attributes.
There’ll be another good football coach at Covington, and probably soon. But like the lyrics to the old Joni Mitchell tune, Big Yellow Taxi, you don’t always know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. As the song goes, we too often pave paradise and put up a parking lot. Miller would tell you…there’s nothing that rash about changing football coaches.
But Covington and the Cross County Conference are going to miss Dave Miller – his character, his personal discipline, and those steely eyes when he faced adversity. The stuff he shared with every Covington football player. The stuff that matters.
Own who you are, and what you do!