For 21 years at Glenbard East, Miller held his 'dream job'

  • Glenbard East coach Scott Miller cuts the rest of the net after his team beat East Aurora in a boys basketball sectional final in Aurora.

    Glenbard East coach Scott Miller cuts the rest of the net after his team beat East Aurora in a boys basketball sectional final in Aurora. Daily Herald Fie Photo, March 2011

 
 
Updated 3/4/2020 7:16 PM

It's hard to name something that hasn't changed over the last 30 years.

Here's something. Glenbard East boys basketball coach Scott Miller's coaching philosophy.

 

"It's not really changed," he confirmed, and with good reason.

"My philosophy is to try to develop boys into young men so that when they do leave they're ready," he said. "The rules and standards that we hold them to are things that are going to make them successful in life.

"Be accountable for your actions. We've got to be the best defensive team we can be, we've got to be the most unselfish team we can be. And we've got to be a coachable team."

When it all meshes, 84 feet of intensity, he calls it "Glenbard East basketball."

There's precious little of it left for Miller with the Rams, who earned a 75-70 overtime win over Willowbrook in Tuesday's Class 4A playoffs.

He is retiring as head coach and health, physical education and driver's education teacher after this school year, his 21st at Glenbard East and 33rd overall, including 12 years at Plano.

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"I still love the game, I still like going to practice, I still like being around the kids. I just don't need the pressures of being the head coach anymore," said Miller, for 18 years a department chairman.

"I'll still be involved, my wife (Lisa) still loves me being involved, which helps. I'm going to keep coaching for awhile."

A 317-game winner and member of the Waubonsee Community College Hall of Fame as a basketball and baseball player, and of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and Plano halls of fame as a coach, Miller first achieved downstate success leading Plano to fourth place in Class A in 1999.

He topped that in 2011 when with his son, Zach, at point guard the Rams finished third in Class 4A.

"We walked off that court as winners that last day of the season. How many people get to do that?" Scott said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Married 29 years to Lisa, until Zach and their daughter, Aly, left the nest to pursue their own careers as teachers and coaches, Lisa ran an in-home day-care business. That allowed Scott to coach not only basketball but also start Glenbard East's girls golf program. He led the Rams to the state tournament in 2014.

With Lisa attending a vast majority of her husband's games -- seated always behind the Rams bench -- Scott Miller has extended this loyalty multifold. (It's also been repaid; some 50 former players showed up to congratulate him on his 300th win.)

The first coaching opportunity for Glenbard South boys coach Wade Hardtke, a 1990 Glenbard East graduate, came as a volunteer for Miller in 1999-2000. Miller also encouraged Hardtke to strike out on his own.

"I always felt like he listened to me," said Hardtke, who gave Miller a Chicago Cubs golf bag as a retirement gift. "He may not have agreed, and sometimes we may have debated a particular point, but we always left with a mutual understanding about the topic and in a better place than when we started. It was a very unique relationship.

"That is what made it so hard to leave and actually made it so hard to coach against him. I never enjoyed coaching against him because I would have rather coached with him."

Miller's varsity assistant, Austin Nelson, has been with him all 21 years at Glenbard East. Sophomore coaches Matt Leahy and Tahron Harvey were Rams players, as were Tom Borosak and Tyler Spears with the Future Rams program, which Miller implemented.

Nelson also will be leaving after this season to see his son, Alijah, play basketball at Hope College. Miller quickly promoted him from the underclass ranks -- "I felt like I needed his strengths," Miller said -- and granted Nelson autonomy in practice.

"I had a lot of opportunities for head jobs and to go other places," Nelson said. "It was just that relationship that we built over the years, it proved good. Even today we have a very good relationship -- being friends, for one, but on the basketball court he's not the guy to say, 'It's my way.'"

Inevitably, though, the head coach is the one held accountable. Maybe the reason Miller's philosophy hasn't changed is it worked for him, too.

"It's been a joy and a treat to do this," he said. "I was telling our guys, I wanted to be a varsity basketball coach since the seventh grade, since I was 13 years old. I was telling the guys, how many times do you get a chance to do your dream job?"

A few more would be good.

doberhelman@dailyherald.com

@doberhelman1

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