What: A conversation with Jamie Miller
Timeline: 1994-1998: Google was founded. The Dixie Chicks were still very popular and Jamie Miller never seemed to miss an opportunity to compete.
Kyle Wagner: What year did you graduate Red Land?
Jamie Miller: 1998.
KW: Ok. I know you were this great soccer player but Mr. Mausner also couldn't stop complimenting you as a basketball player. Tell me about your Red Land days.
JM: Well, I played volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and soccer in the spring. Soccer was a spring sport back then for the girls. I'll say I liked volleyball but I loved basketball. My friends got me to play in 7th grade and I truly loved it. I wasn't as critical of myself playing basketball as I was playing soccer. I played soccer since I was 3. My Dad was my coach and I was constantly trying to keep up with my brother (Jared) who was 3 years older.
KW: I know. I was the same way at times. Basketball and football were less stressful. Often, more fun. Tell me about basketball. I know you were a 1,000-pt. scorer.
JM: We had awesome teams. We won the Mid-Penn championships 2 of my 4 years and competed for championships the other 2. I especially remember how the Seniors welcomed me my Fr. year. Jenny Page, Traci Dobbins, Kerri Lubic, Susan Weigel, Brook Shatzer and Christa Peifer. It was a great experience all 4 years.
KW: How would you describe your style of play?
JM: I think I took 2 3 pointers in my 4 years and made 1. I was absolutely an inside player.
KW: Ok. Shifting gears. Soccer. Tell me about your overall soccer experience.
JM: (Laughter) Wow. Well, at Red Land I was All State, All Region and All American. But as a team we could never get over the Cumberland Valley hump. They were really good. They still are really good. But, after high school I went to James Madison. I loved my college coach. A guy by the name of Dave Lombardo. We're still really good friends to this day. He was fantastic. He actually encouraged me to try out for the basketball team at James Madison too. I'm pretty confident I could have made the team as a walk on. But I got really homesick and went home on weekends. It's one of my biggest regrets.
KW: Was it always going to be James Madison?
JM: I originally committed to Maryland. The recruiting trip sold me. I guess maybe it was their facilities. But I just had this gut feeling that it wasn't right. So, I called up Coach Lombardo and told him I made a mistake and I want to come and play for you. He told me that they gave my scholarship away. I told him I didn't care and I wanted to play for JMU. Thankfully, he called back a little while later and said they "found" the money.
KW: What position did you play?
JM: That's funny. My whole life I was center mid. But my Sr. year they switched me to center back and I won conference defensive player of the year. So, maybe I should have been playing there all along.
KW: Were you guys competitive at JMU?
JM: We were. My Sr. year though we lost to William and Mary in the playoffs and I broke my foot in the first 5 minutes of the game. When I left we were up 1-0 and we lost 2-1. After college, I tried out for the WUSA (Women's Professional Soccer League) in Florida that summer. It was a combine event. I was rehabbing in the pool trying to get ready but I wasn't at my best. I didn't make it but I wasn't devastated. It allowed me to pursue my ultimate goal of a teaching career. I've always wanted to be a teacher/coach and that's what I'm doing.
Jamie is the current Girls Head Soccer Coach at Red Land.
KW: I know you won your 150th game as a coach this year at Red Land. Tell me how your coaching is similar and different compared to Jamie Miller the player?
JM: Well, I'm still super competitive but I'm easier on the girls than I am on myself. The girls are super hard on themselves so I don't want them afraid to make a mistake. I adore my soccer girls. I wouldn't trade that for anything.
KW: You guys play in the Commonwealth, right?
JM: Yeah, we play the big dogs. It's really hard to compete but we keep fighting. We got the Sportsmanship Award which is kind of cool. The kids are just awesome.
KW: Do you have a moment that stands out above all others as Red Land Coach?
JM: The 2012 Spring team...
* In 2012, girls soccer became a spring sport. Jamie coached the team in the spring and then again in the fall.
We lost to Cumberland Valley in the district championship and Bryce Watts scored a goal but they waived it off for being offsides. I had some officials at the game tell me later that it shouldn't have been called but whatever. But, one of the things I remember most about that season is our goalie situation. We had Rachel Skonecki who was a Sr. and Rachel Fox who was a Fr. I remember Rachel Fox asking me if she was going to receive her Varsity letter early in the year. I'm thinking "Who is this crazy little Freshman?" Then, 8 games into the season Rachel Skonecki breaks her wrist and I'm forced to play Rachel Fox. She was so good that when Skonecki came back I had no choice but to keep Rachel Fox in goal. And when I told Rachel Skonecki she said "I totally understand."
KW: Wow. I had no idea you guys were that close to a district championship and what a story about the Rachel's. Skonecki's reaction was amazing.
JM: It didn't surprise me. The Skonecki's are great. But, yeah, we lost to CV in the district finals 2-1 and then had a decent run at states before losing to Whitehall 5-3 in the 3rd round of the state tournament. That was a special team. And, I don't know if you saw it but we lost Brendi (Brendi Ernst Richardson) this year to cancer. It breaks my heart.
Notes and Quotes....
The labels we use to define ourselves are revealing. "Coach" is more than a title. It's a respect thing. Jamie Miller doesn’t appear to be into labels. Both Abby Brezina and Rachel Fox referred to her as Mill. I honestly think she didn't stand on formality. How they addressed her was irrelevant so long as they competed and were kind. Jamie Miller created a winning culture through friendship and through competitive grit. Her girls and teammates loved and respected her for this.
"I LOVED playing with Miller!! Her energy, smile and sense of humor is infectious!! She was such a hard worker..."
- Crista Peifer Winemiller
"Jamie is one of the best coaches I have been around. She sets the expectations for her team, holds them accountable and gets the best out of each player. She has a passion for Red Land girls soccer and represents the school and her program in a positive manner. She is someone I would want to play for."
- Dan Hagerman (Red Land Athletic Director)
"I think it (her broken foot) all worked out for the best because that brought her back to Red Land."
"She cared about every player in the program, not just the best players on the Varsity. She saw you as more than a soccer player. She cared about you as a person."
"She is the type of coach that takes great individuals, finds out how to make them a team and exceeds expectations.... I loved to win and so did she. It didn't matter if it was the district finals or playing fun games at practice, she wanted to win."
- Rachel Fox
"I know her niece and nephew are also very proud of their Aunt GeGe's accomplishments. Every time we are back at the high school, they always want to see Jamie's basketball with 1,000 points on it."
"She knows each of my kid’s names, their interests and ages and asks about them every time I see her. She is genuine."
-Kerri Lubic Frey