It’s not all X’s and O’s

Nate Kaiser (TheLorian)

The walls of Coach Gabe Miller’s office reveal a man whose life is committed to the art of coaching. Handwritten quotes cover his office whiteboard and books about how to better your life lay across the room. Miller pointed to the board and read allowed his favorite quote.

“When you know who you are, you don’t have to worry anymore”

Miller personifies that quote. He knows who he is.

He is a basketball coach determined to make good players, but even greater people.

Miller grew up in southern Indiana, where he felt the impact of being coached from a young age. “The people that played the biggest impact in my life were my coaches. Whether it was my 8th grade basketball coach, my varsity basketball coach, or my college basketball coach, those were the biggest mentors in my life,” said Miller. Miller felt a need to impact others in his life, so he followed his journey into coaching.

After playing four years of division three basketball at Anderson University, which is north of Indianpolis, Miller married his girlfriend Erika and moved back to South Indiana. It was there he got a call asking if he would be interested in getting back into college basketball, this time as a coach.

His first coaching job was at Judson Univeristy. While coaching at Judson, Miller met Loras head coach Chris Martin. “We set up an interview and the rest, (as) they say, is history,” Miller said.

Once at Loras Miller had a new challenge, to develop a strong relationship with his new head coach.

“He’s an excellent coach, he knows X’s and O’s but, I think a leader is someone that can impact and empower others, and he does just that,” said Miller. The two had a vision for the future of Duhawk Basketball. They had to build a solid foundation before they could focus on the X’s and O’s. (culture building quote).

As Miller settled into his assistant coach role, he learned how important it is to speak his mind despite his position as the assistant.

“I don’t want to say the wrong things, but I also don’t want to just be a yes man. I want to be able to challenge things and suggest ideas,” said Miller.

Miller realizes now that some of his early suggestions to Martin had a level of immaturity. He was too focused on “what” they were doing not “why” they were doing it.

At the division three level the duties of assistant coaches run deeper than merely coaching practices and games. “We have to travel to the game, guys have to get fed, guys need post-game food, we have to travel home and everything else,” Miller said.

Unlike larger schools, where they have people to schedule the team’s events, Miller does it all, with delight. “I love the operation side, that people don’t see,”Miller said. To him, coaching is an art form, and he gets to paint his masterpiece every single day.

Miller brought up another one of his favorite quotes, which embodies his passion for basketball. “Your why, is greater than your how, is greater than your what.” While intitially this quote may not seem to have a basketball context, Miller explains. “The why I coach is to impact. How do I do that – with intensity and getting in the fight with our guys. And the what is basketball.”

The players may not understand the importance of the skills that Miller teaches them, but he knows how vital of a role he plays. “I coach to impact and influence, not everyone is going to love every coach they have, but every coach can impact you,” said Miller.

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Nate Kaise is a freshman at Loras College. He is from Rockton Illinois and a Media Studies major. He is currently a reporter and Associate Producer for LCTV SportsZone.

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