Henry's County's Miller says good bye to Warhawk nation

Walking into Henry County athletic director Chuck Miller's office is a little bit like taking a trip back in time.

Not only does Miller have a radio tuned to an oldies rock and roll station, playing everything from the Beatles to Elvis Presley, his office located just inside the school's gymnasium is adorned with pictures, plaques and basketballs encased in glass, signifying some of his milestone victories from years in the coaching business.

It's a little personal "Chuck Miller museum" and it reflects positively on a career spent both as a basketball coach and athletic director.

Although Miller gave up his coaching duties years ago, he stayed on as athletic director at the school, but Friday afternoon when his last P.E. Class was taught, and all the students cleaned out a year's worth of stuff from their lockers, Miller's career officially came to an end at Henry County High School, as the man who gave more than 40 years of service to students in Georgia retired.

"Chuck is a gentleman," said good friend and former Stockbridge girls coach George Eanes. "He is one of the best athletic directors this state has ever had."

Eanes and Miller coached against each other for years, but most recently were spotted at high school basketball games sitting together watching a new generation of basketball coaches work.

No doubt also reminiscing about their own coaching careers.

"We coached hard against each other, but were always friends off the court," Eanes said.

Now that Miller is retired, don't expect him to sit around doing nothing.

Sure, the man is passionate about fishing, and he will still have plenty of chances to wet a line, but basketball still remains an important part of his life.

After all, Miller is a basketball coach, and as he would tell you, "once a basketball coach, always a basketball coach."

So he plans to spend his free time in the gym, lending a hand to his son Curt, who is the boys basketball coach and athletic director at Ola, one of Henry County's biggest rivals.

"It's going to be nice to let somebody else be the boss for a change," Chuck Miller said.

For Miller getting to work with his son is exciting. Curt played for his Dad at Henry County back in the 1990s and has followed in the family business, first serving as a middle school coach and later boys basketball coach when Dutchtown opened its doors.

Chuck also coached his daughter Lynn when she was in high school.

The younger member of the Miller coaching clan moved over to Ola went it opened three years ago so he could coach the boys basketball team and serve as an AD for the first time in his career.

"Curt is the only person's staff I would join. It's going to be exciting. There are not too many people who get to work with their son."

Curt doesn't not have to worry about his father getting in the way either.

"He is in charge, I am just going to be there to help out and do what is needed," Chuck said.

Curt can't wait. The younger Miller has been a student of the game as long as he can remember.

"It's going to be great having him on the staff," he said.

The proud Dad knew his son was sure to follow in his footsteps as soon a Curt started hanging out in the gym as a little boy.

"I think it was just a given that Curt was going to be a coach," Chuck said.

When Chuck gets to Ola, he could be joining a staff with a team on the rise. Last season Ola made it to the state tournament for the first time ever.

The veteran basketball coach brings plenty of knowledge to his son's staff. The elder Miller spent several years coaching both the boys and girls teams, often at the same time. It helped him win 855 games.

But for Miller, who graduated from Southwest DeKalb High, life never revolved around basketball.

"I probably have the distinction of being the only person who was cut from every basketball team I tried out for, but I played football and ran track, but I had no plans to go to college," Miller said.

It was a different era back then, and Miller was expected to work in a family business once high school was over.

Nobody in his family was pushing college.

A chance meeting at a gas station with some friends changed the direction of Miller's life.

"They were all standing around talking about where they were going to go to school," Miller said. "I pointed to a friend of mine and said I am going to go with him."

That happened to be to West Georgia College in Carrollton.

Once Miller told his family, he was informed, if he really wanted to go, he would have to pay his own way.

So Miller worked odd jobs at a service station, as a dorm counselor and at the school cafeteria, but it prepared him for life after college.

After Miller finished his studies in college, he embarked on his teaching and coaching career.

He started out at Woodbury High School in 1965, then landed at Milner High before making stops at Monticello and Cartersville. Around 1982, he arrived at Henry County where he spent the next 28 years.

Through most of it, he coached both boys and girls at the same time. It wasn't something he was forced to do, it was something he enjoyed.

When he started coaching girls teams back in the 1960s, they played a three-on-three version of the game where only three players were allowed over the half-court line. The other players had to remain back on defense.

One of the strangest things that happened during Miller's coaching career came when he was at Cartersville.

The squad had just won the region title when everybody on the team came down with the flu.

After missing several days of practice, Miller finally convinced his team they had to come to school so they could practice and get ready for the state tournament game.

"I called them and told them to come to school on Wednesday even if they were throwing up, so we could have a little shoot around. Then we went and played Crestwood on Thursday, and we got upset," he said. "That one hurt pretty good because we really had a good team."

It was another reminder for Miller that there were always going to be ups and downs in the coaching business.

One of the biggest disappointments Miller faced came when he left Cartersville. The veteran coach had been promised his coaching supplement was going to be increased and when it didn't happen, he resigned.

For a time, he appeared headed to Fayette County, but when he interviewed there, he was told he could coach one of the varsity teams, but not both. That's when the door opened at Henry County around 1982.

It was the beginning of a long association that included serving as the school's athletic director.

Miller knew there were going to be growing pains when he first arrived as the Warhawks' coach.

"I think there were a lot of parents who didn't want me, but I told them, if they would just leave us alone, we were going to be good."

He was right because both those first boys and girls teams ended up winning the sub-region and region titles.

Starting in 1996, Miller gave up the boys job and began to just coach the girls. He also stayed busy for the next 14 or so years, serving as the school's athletic director.

For Miller working in the AD role brought just as much satisfaction as coaching basketball.

"It's been a lot of fun," he said. "When you have good administrators like (Principal) Andy Giddens, it is fun to get up and come to work. He lets you do your job, he doesn't micro-manage. He has just made being AD fun."

For years a holiday basketball tournament has been held at Henry County right before Christmas, and now it's named the Chuck Miller Classic in honor of the veteran coach and athletic director.

One of the things he is most proud of as an AD is the way the boys and girls basketball teams have performed the past two seasons.

A year ago, the girls team made it all the way to the Class AA Final Four under Carl Caputa's watch. This year, they went 20-6 made it to the second round. This past season, Vince Rosser's boys squad made a run deep into the state tournament, winning their first two state tournament games.

Both teams went into this year's postseason as Region 4-AA champs.

"The basketball teams here are in good shape," Miller said.

Miller is highly thought of around the state when it comes to his athletic director's knowledge. He has served on several committees and has been region secretary many times throughout his career.

He is also on the Georgia High School Association executive committee.

"The one thing I have learned from my Dad when it comes to being an AD is there are rules, and there's a right way and a wrong way to do things, "I have probably called him more about AD questions than basketball questions." Curt said.

For the past 39 years, Miller has been married to his wife Debbie. In addition to their two children, they have six grand kids.

"She is the best wife in the world," he said. "She has always been there."

Miller looks forward to plenty of family time now that he has retired.

For Miller, he can look back with pride at the things he was able to accomplish.

"We are leaving on a positive note," Miller said on Thursday, just one day before he walked out of Henry County High School after spending 28 years teaching and coaching at the school.

He will also will continue to cheer for Henry County even though he will be assisting with the Ola boys basketball team, one of Henry County's biggest rivals.

"I always want to see the Warhawks do well," he said. "I will always been a Henry County fan."