For many of us, getting on the perfect career track might require a few laps- before finding the job that vaults us into our vocational comfort zone.
Not so for coach Ken Miller. The athletic director, teacher and track-and-field coach found his stride 34 years ago when he joined Calgary’s Glenmore Christian Academy at the age of 25.
He hasn’t lost his momentum. Alongside his duties as father to five and grandfather to seven, Miller’s earned the reputation as discipline enforcer, fear-assuager and stalwart churner-outer of future star athletes and leaders across a variety of industries — starting with students in grades 6 through 9.
“Ken was the definition of discipline and perseverance,” says Evan Kimick, a Calgary-based engineer with ConocoPhillips Canada who attended Glenmore Christian from 2002-04, achieving track and field championship status locally, provincially and nationally in both high school and university.
Kimick says Miller didn’t give out easy grades and always pushed his students beyond their comfort zones. They don’t call him Killer Miller for nothing.
“Depending on the season, we had to do either an endurance run or sprints/bounds at the beginning of every class, followed by push-ups and sit-ups,” says Kimick.
Miller’s mentorship set the alumnus up for success professionally. It’s that knack for relating to his student proteges as people while simultaneously teaching the rules around accountability.
Gone are the days of the gruff and iconic coaches of cinematic yesteryear — espousers of the drop-down-and-give-me-20 variety. Today’s parents, according to Miller, demand an athletic culture that promotes leadership and excellence with a personal touch.
And today’s coach, Miller explains, is more about “I’m here to produce the best athlete you can be. I’ll do my part, you do yours.”
The “yours” means respect for academics and teachers, peers and opponents — and respecting other schools’ sports facilities when visiting as guests.
Grade 9 student and track-and-field star Emy Udoh says two seasons ago she loved hurdles, but during practice she had a habit of running alongside them instead of jumping over top — something that kept her up at night — until Coach Miller helped her make the leap.
“One day he just forced it upon me. He said ‘just go for it — if you fall just get back up.’ So I finally jumped over it and it was awesome. I loved it,” Udoh enthuses, noting last year she finished first in both her zones and qualifiers.
“If you can just get them over their fears, you’ve introduced them to something they maybe would not have tried in their lifetime. Now they’ve tried it and they love it. You feel good about that,” says Miller.
Further, he explains, if he can help pave the way for life beyond junior high — and all its impending “hurdles,” he can rest happy.
“My main goal in all that I do is to prepare them as well as possible for the next step … It’s been so much fun and so rewarding after all these years,” says Miller.
This story was produced by the Calgary Herald’s Special Projects department in collaboration with advertisers to promote awareness about private schools for commercial purposes. The Herald’s editorial department had no involvement in the creation of this content.