Wrestling coach called to duty

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 29, 2003

He blended well among the his athletes. On the red mat of the gym, the students fixed their eyes as the coach demonstrated a move. Though he could easily be mistaken as one of the students, he was poised with a sense of leadership.

This will be the last practice of the season for the Scott Miller, Ellis Middle School head wrestling coach, who has been called to duty as a Marine Corps Reserve.

"I got the call on Saturday morning. I let the phone ring and I later listened to the message, telling me that I was being activated, to call the number they left and needed to show up at 14:00 hours," said Miller who has been in the Marine reserves since November 2000.

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With arms crossed and eyes focused on the activity in the room as the students practiced maneuvers, the 20-year-old explained his mixed emotions over the news.

"One minute I can't wait to go, the next I think of what I am leaving behind …," he paused. "I am leaving behind 24 kids."

Miller, who was a wrestler in high school, said he received the offer as the head coach on a Friday and was asked if he could start that next Monday.

"I wasn't sure if I could be a head coach, but after a day or two I got in the hang of things," Miller recalled.

His experience in wrestling camp as well as boot camp have been influential in his coaching techniques, Miller said.

He talked about the students like a proud parent at a first game, commenting on the season and future plans he had for the team.

"I have nothing but good things to say about the kids … I am really disappointed that I am leaving and I won't be around for the last three matches," Miller said.

In his short period as coach he has seen improvements in the students. He pointed out the number of first-time wrestlers and the enthusiasm and dedication they have shown.

"This is the stepping stone … trying to help them make a smooth transition to high school or college. I say hard work, work hard and things will come to you," Miller said.

Naomi Hatfield, Austin High School Activities Director, said Miller and other coaches at Ellis have been doing a good job with the students this year.

"He's just an excellent young man," Hatfield said. "He's just done a terrific job."

Miller was planning to return to school, where he was training as auto body mechanic, but had to drop after breaking his arm.

But for now all plans will have to be postponed because a return date is not yet known.

"My parents are scared, but also excited. They are very supportive; they know it is not my choice. It's something above me and there is nothing I can do," Miller said.

Roxana Orellana can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at :mailto:roxana.orellana@austindailyherald.com