Jack Miller recently retired from Manteca High, where the History teacher spent more than 30 years as an assistant coach with the football team. Miller was a part of four Sac-Joaquin Section championship teams and was twice voted Best of Manteca’s Best Local Coach. Now City of Manteca Hall of Famer pays close attention to his yards, his golf game and granddaughter.
I was lucky to coach with many of my best friends, so it was fun to go to practice every day and hang with those guys. I miss it a lot. I miss the relationships with the players and the other coaches, most of all. I always said it was one of the reasons why I did it, and when I listen to people on television who have stepped away from the game, that’s one of the first things they always mention.
People had asked me over the last few years, “How much longer?” I always said I’d take it one year at a time.
I don’t think it was a moment. I think it was a combination of things. My wife (Mary Miller) and I have a new granddaughter. It’s really cool and she’s just a sweetheart. My son (Sammy Miller) and his family live in Reno, so we don’t see her as much as we’d like. Being retired allows us to go up a little more often and it allows me to spend more time with my wife, especially on the road. We get a chance to travel a little bit. Those things weren’t always possible when I was coaching.
Mary has always been the greatest supporter of me and Manteca High sports. I couldn’t have done what I did and for as long as I did without her unselfish support over the years. … But I think she’s a little concerned that it’s not completely out of my blood. It was tough the other night, I’ll tell you. I’ve only been to one practice just because, one, I don’t want to be in the way, but also because it’s hard to stand off to the side and watch.
I’m going to cop out. It’s hard to compare teams and eras.
2001 was unbelievable because it was the first one (Sac-Joaquin Section championship team). You look back, we beat some heavyweight teams to win that one. 2005, I was going through chemo. Those kids just lifted me up every day that I was dealing with that stuff, so that was awesome. 2006, my younger son (Kevin Miller) was on that team. I had watched those kids grow up from little kids, so that was exciting as all get out. Last year, that team was so much fun to be around. I don’t know that I could pick one, because they were all so unique.
You’re talking to a really lucky guy here.
It was a lot of fun coaching both of them, but it presented its challenges. We sat down beforehand and discussed things that might happen and how we’d handle it. Fortunately, I was able to turn Sammy over to Neil (MacDannald), and Neil did a great job coaching him and calling plays. I stayed completely out of that in football. Kevin I did coach as a defensive back. It was fun to watch this kid who as a freshman was the smallest on the team. By the time he was a senior, he was 6-2.
As an athlete, I wanted to be taught on the field. I felt the more I knew, the better I would perform. I tried to take the classroom out of the athletic field.
My yard looks the best it has looked in a long, long time. That’s true, too. I spend a lot of time in the yard. My golf game has improved a little bit, but not as much as I’d like. And any chance we get, we get up to Reno and see Sam’s family, or get over to the Bay Area to see Kevin.
One of the really nice parts about being a teacher and a coach, you have relationships and friendships and association that last a lifetime. I’m happy to say I’ve become friends with players of mine and students of mine. The City of Manteca has been great to the Miller family.
The ideal trip would be somewhere near the ocean and probably with a golf course close by. My wife – I don’t think she wants any part of the golf course.
The Interview was conducted by Managing Editor James Burns, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.