“I’ve been doing the boys for 20 years now,” he said. “I thought it was time to try something new, bring back some of that energy.”
Michelle Dailey, who coached the Eagles for four years, stepped down after last season. During the hiring process, Miller wanted a candidate with varsity experience, who had coached girls before, was familiar with the community and had a relationship with the girls and parents.
“After a while when I think about the things, I can check all these boxes,” Miller said. “I thought it would be a good change for me. I’m already staying up at night thinking about defenses and offenses and things we can do to work and get better.”
Making the switch to coach the girls team wasn’t easy. In the past he envisioned walking the same path as his father, Leo Miller, who coached boys basketball at Nauset for 40 years.
“Easthampton boys basketball coach has been my identity for 20 years now,” Miller said. “My wife and I talked about it, and I felt it was the right thing to do at that time.”
The Eagles won two Western Massachusetts championships under Miller: first in 2003 and again in 2018. Easthampton reached the program’s first state final in 2018, losing to Watertown.
Miller still remembers his first win: the Eagles beat Lenox in overtime at a tournament at Smith Vocational. He took over in the midst of an 0-20 season then started to turn things around.
“The fist experience of playing at the Cage, going in through the back door and signing in and getting your players pass and how excited the kids were and the community,” Miller said. “It’s the daily stuff that happens in practice every day in the hallways that just accumulate over the years are pretty special.”
Since he’s Easthampton’s athletic director, Miller will have a say in who replaces him. The job opening has been posted is still open. There have been half a dozen applicants, he said. Easthampton is in the process of forming a seven-member hiring committee composed of Miller, an administrator, a teacher, a parent, a student and two community members.
“Obviously it’s been my baby for the last 20 years, and I would like to see the program continue to grow and get better, even,” he said. “We took it to a certain level, and it can go further.”
Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.