Miller excited about opportunity
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Jeff Miller has been named head coach of the Northern Lehigh High School boys basketball team.
For as long as he can remember, basketball has been in Jeff Miller's bloodlines.
A successful player in his era, the Lehighton native will return to the hardwood this season as head coach of the Northern Lehigh boys basketball team.
Miller, who on Monday was appointed to the position to replace Richard Oertner, said he relishes the opportunity to maintain the team's prominence.
"I'm excited about it; it's a great challenge," Miller said. "Northern Lehigh basketball has a rich tradition, and my goal is to continue that tradition."
Miller, who is employed as the Sporting Goods Manager at Shea's Hardware Store in Palmerton, said he couldn't be happier with his new gig.
"For me, it was a great situation," he said. "This opportunity came along, and it's a great fit."
Under the tutelage of Oertner, the Bulldogs cruised last season to a 19-6 record and Colonial League title, the team's third in four seasons.
However, gone from that team are four starters, with only senior guard Jordan Waylan set to return.
"We don't have a lot of experience, but the young people we have can develop very nicely," Miller said. "It's about developing that young talent."
One of the advantages Miller noted is that as a volunteer with the team for the past two seasons, the players are familiar with him, and vice versa.
"We're going to be continuing what's been successful down there," he said. "My belief is if it's not broke, don't fix it."
To help ease the transition, Miller said the staff will again consist of JV coach Denny Rehrig (24 years experience), freshman coach Richie Mantz (19 years), as well as middle school coaches Robbie Roberts and Rick Roberts.
Despite his team's apparent youth, Miller said the goals will continue to remain the same.
"Every year, we're going to want to go the Colonial League playoffs, the District 11 playoffs," he said. "I believe that's very reachable with this group."
A graduate of Lehighton Area High School, Miller said he began his coaching career as an assistant coach at his alma mater, where he served from 1980-87. After one year as an assistant coach for the Lehigh Carbon Community College men's basketball team, Miller became head coach from 1989-94.
From there, he returned to Lehighton, where he served from 1995-2008 as both Junior Varsity and assistant varsity coach.
Miller, who played the sport at Lehighton, LCCC, and East Stroudsburg College, said basketball has been a huge part of his family's livelihood.
His older brothers, Mickey and Ron Miller, played at Muhlenberg College, while his son, Trevor, played on the 2006-07 Indians squad.
Miller also has three nephews, Michael, who played at Muhlenburg; Greg, who played at the University of Delaware and overseas in Europe; and Daniel, who played at the University of Maryland and University of Notre Dame.
For Miller, this season figures to take on even greater significance because it comes shortly after his father passed away.
"My father never missed a game, so I certainly will be thinking of him when we take the floor," he said. "I certainly never forgot that, so this year will be special."